A new permanent coronavirus testing centre is to open in Gants Hill Library car park.

It will open for a pilot tomorrow and Friday (October 1 and 2), with reduced opening hours between 10am and 5pm.

It will be in full operation from Saturday, October 3, 8am — 8pm, running seven days a week and has a capacity of 288 tests per day.

The centre can be accessed without a car but appointments must be booked in advance by calling 119 or online at redbridge.gov.uk/gettested.

This announcement comes after considerable lobbying from those within Redbridge Council. Leader Cllr Jas Athwal said: “Cllr Santos and I wrote to Matt Hancock, secretary of state for health and social care, to demand more testing capacity and we are pleased that as a result, we now have an additional permanent testing centre in Redbridge.”

Cllr Mark Santos, cabinet member for health, social care, mental health and the ageing added he was “pleased that the government has started to listen”.

Both councillors were clear that this is not the end of the road, with Cllr Athwal confirming that a request is to be made for a third site in the west of the borough, around Wanstead and Woodford.

Cllr Santos believes a third site is a matter of necessity; saying only when that is delivered “will we start to believe the government is taking the coronavirus risk to our community seriously”.

The new site comes at a time when Redbridge has the highest infection rates in London, most recently confirmed by the leader to be at 58.6 cases per 100,000 people.

With this looking set to rise as the second wave begins, the announcement of the new site is timely.

Cllr Athwal hopes it will help ensure that past mistakes aren’t repeated.

He said: “Earlier this month, we saw Redbridge residents being turned away from testing centres because the government were not adequately prepared. That can never happen again.

“We all know that testing will help save lives.”

Responding to the news, Ilford North MP Wes Streeting said: “Our relentless campaigning for adequate testing facilities locally has once again paid off with this new testing facility on Cranbrook Road by Gants Hill library. I’m particularly grateful to Jas Athwal, Mark Santos and the Redbridge Public Health teams for their intensive efforts.

“The government’s failure to get an adequate test and tracking system up and running has done untold damage to our country. Let’s hope that this new facility makes the difference that our local community has been crying out for.”

If you have Covid-19 symptoms: a high temperature, new continuous cough, or a loss of or change to your sense of smell or taste, you should self-isolate immediately and get tested.

All testing facilities in Redbridge can be found at redbridge.gov.uk/gettested.