A COUNCIL leader has urged people in Blackburn with Darwen to play their part and avoid a ‘local lockdown’ like Leicester’s.

A drive-through coronavirus testing site was set up locally over the weekend in response to a jump in the rate of new cases.

Blackburn with Darwen’s rate of new cases in the seven days to July 6 was 33.6 per 100,000 people, compared to 23.5 for the previous seven days, while Pendle’s figures are 25.2 and 17.5 respectively.

The announcement comes as Blackburn with Darwen was identified as an area of 'concern' in a Public Health England report leaked to a national newspaper.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, council leader, said: “No-one wants to find ourselves in a situation like in Leicester. Please continue to do your bit to stick to the rules to protect yourself and your loved ones.

“We are grateful to the majority of residents who have strictly adhered to the government’s guidance around staying at home as much as possible, and being sensible when they do need to go out.”

Testing will take place at Witton Park Academy’s car park between 11am and 6.30pm every day until Saturday.

People will be expected to carry out their own swabs, which will then be handed to staff to store safely and send for processing. Locals wanting a test will not need to book an appointment and it is free and open to all ages.

Dominic Harrison, the borough’s public health director, said: “This temporary testing site is open to those in this area of Blackburn and also the wider borough for those who feel they need a test. Sites like this allow people to quickly get a test and find out whether they need to quarantine with their household or seek treatment if needed.

“While we haven’t had the level of outbreak seen in Leicester and other areas, we are aware of our raised rate of confirmed cases according to recent data. We are therefore introducing measures to mitigate risks in a proportionate and phased way – and the mobile testing unit is one of them.

“We have also published our outbreak management plan, are stepping up our local prevention work week-on-week with vulnerable settings and are strengthening our communications with key groups. We are working closely with the NHS to make Pennine Lancashire second wave ready and are making plans to increase the availability of local testing for higher risk groups.

“Above all else, we need to work together to keep Blackburn with Darwen a Covid–safe borough. It’s up to us all to stick by the rules and protect each other.”