THE trust which runs Colchester Hospital is urging visitors to take a rapid Covid test before entering its maternity units or scanning departments.

Rapid testing stations for coronavirus are closing in the maternity and scanning departments run by East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust.

It comes after the Government announced anyone in England can get free testing kits to check for coronavirus.

However, if people cannot test at home for any reason, voluntary rapid Covid tests will be available at Colchester Hospital and the Coast Birthing Unit at Clacton Hospital for 12 week ultrasound scans, 20 week ultrasound scans, fetal medicine appointments and visits to the neonatal unit.

The trust recommends pregnant people and their support person test themselves at home twice a week, or at least within the 24 hours before they attend hospital appointments.

Anyone with a positive result should stay at home.

The tests can be accessed for free online and at local testing sites or pharmacies.

Giles Thorpe, the chief nurse for ESNEFT, said: “We are asking all expectant parents for their help by continuing to test at home to keep them, their families and our staff as safe as possible.

“You should do a rapid test twice a week (every three to four days) to check if you have the virus.

“If you or your support person test positive and self-isolate, it helps to stop the virus spreading and protects everyone in our hospitals.

“If anyone has any questions or concerns they would like to discuss about their pregnancy or coming to hospital, I would encourage them to call their midwife.

“Our teams are here to help.”