Two new COVID-19 testing sites have opened in the North East, allowing people with suspected coronavirus symptoms to be tested.
One of the sites is in Blaydon in Gateshead, while the other is located in Billingham in Stockton on Tees.
Both are situated in locations that mean they can be easily accessed without a car or method of transport.
Where are these two new testing sites?
Blaydon Leisure Centre car park
The Forum car park in Billingham
The two sites are part of what is claimed to be the largest network of diagnostic testing facilities created in British history which the government says has the capacity to process more than 500,000 tests a day and includes more than 600 sites across the UK, including:
79 drive-through sites
292 walk-through sites
258 mobile units
home testing and satellite kits
five Lighthouse laboratories.
New walk-in sites make it even easier to get a test no matter where you live. If you have symptoms of coronavirus, I urge you to book a test today and follow the advice of NHS Test and Trace if you are contacted to protect others and stop the spread of the virus.
When should I get tested if I suspect I have COVID-19?
The Department for Health and Social care says only people who have one or more symptoms should get tested. Symptoms include:
a high temperature
a new continuous cough
a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
Tests can be booked online via nhs.uk/coronavirus or by calling 119.
The announcement of two extra testing sites in the North East comes in the week it was announced that a Covid-19 vaccine has proven 90% effective in immunising against the virus, based on results from final "stage three" human trials.
The work of US drug giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech, developers said results showed "initial evidence of our vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid-19."
Meanwhile, the leaders of seven North East councils are urging the public to continue with their efforts to reduce the R rate in the region.
The leaders, backed by public health directors, once again thanked everyone for their collective efforts. They are urging people to keep following the law and not leave their home except for some very limited specific purposes and avoid social contact in a bid to drive the rate down to try and get the region out of lockdown in a better position.
In their statement, they say in the days before the national restrictions came into force, footfall in the towns and city centres was high, leading to large crowds of people and even now the national restrictions are in place, many areas continue to be busier than expected.
Public Health officials say the impact of this activity is starting to feed into the number of people testing positive and are asking everyone to take the virus seriously or risk tougher restrictions continuing.
We do not want to come out of lockdown in a worse position in terms of infections than we went in - but unless things change that is where we are heading. The rate of infection is rising in all age groups. It is a fast-moving, changing picture and every single person’s actions will make a difference.