SIX new vaccination sites will open tomorrow across East Lancashire to combat the spread of the new Indian coronavirus variant.

Two are in Blackburn, one in Darwen, one in Accrington and one in Burnley.

Although they will not deliver Covid-19 jabs to all residents aged 18 and over, they will offer immunisation to those between 18 and 38 with underlying health conditions or who live, care for or work with anyone such a condition.

Surge testing is also to be introduced in the three wards in Blackburn with Darwen where the Indian variant has been identified.

The new vaccination centres are at the

- Acorn Medical Centre in Accrington

- Burnley General Hospital

- Everest Pharmacy in Darwen

- Penny Street Car Park in Blackburn

- Revidge Fold Church in Blackburn

- Royal Blackburn Hospital

They will use an extra allocation of 1,000 new Pfizer jabs a day for East Lancashire.

The sites will be open from 8am until 8pm until Thursday with more extra clinics due after then.

The jabs are also available to anyone aged 38 and over; health and social care staff; and any carers paid or unpaid (who will not be asked for proof).

Vaccinations must be booked in advance via the Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commission Groups and Healthier Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS websites.

They are not available on a walk-in basis or through the NHS national booking system.

Jane Scattergood, Covid-19 vaccination director for Lancashire, said: “We have secured extra vaccines for everyone eligible. As long as you are eligible book your vaccine as quickly as you can.”

From tomorrow there will be enhanced Covid-19 PCR testing – or 'surge testing' – for anyone living, working or going to school in the BB1 6, BB1 7, BB1 8 and BB2 6 postcodes.

Anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus should book a free test online or by phone from home.

People without symptoms can collect tests by visiting one of three hubs at Revidge Fold Church, Corporation Park main entrance, and the Bangor Street Community Centre.

Blackburn with Darwen's public health director Professor Dominic Harrison said: "Although we have seen a spike in cases of the variant first identified in India, we have no evidence to suggest that it can make you more ill or that it is more deadly.

"However, we do know that it is spreading, and that is why we are introducing this surge testing programme in the wards where cases are highest.

"By identifying cases of this variant, we can improve our understanding of how it spreads and work on how to shut down transmission."

Blackburn with Darwen Council leader Cllr Mohammed Khan said: "We are totally against any local lockdown. We are continuing to push for more vaccinations and testing to curb our rising cases. We are really concerned about our younger generation."