Asymptomatic testing being rolled out across the country

Asymptomatic testing sites are being rolled out across the country following successfully trial in Johnstone in December.

Community testing in areas with high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence are a way of identifying positive cases in communities and breaking chains of transmission.

The sites are being delivered by Local Authorities in partnership with NHS Boards and are being funded by the Scottish Government. Environmental Health departments within Local Authorities have had large amount on input to the delivery of these sites. 

Fife has set up a testing site in Cowdenbeath with four more sites in different areas across Fife opening in the coming weeks. Meanwhile, two sites in Glasgow are also opening up 1 March and are being staffed by the Armed forces. Another site in East Renfrewshire in Barrhead will also be opening on 1 March. 

Further proposals for Ayrshire & Arran, Dumfries & Galloway, Greater Glasgow & Clyde, and Grampian have been agreed, and discussions are underway with a number of other boards and local authorities for agreement.

The sites will provide lateral flow testing, followed by a confirmatory PCR test if the first result is positive. 

Community testing has continued in the meantime with Mobile Test Units deployed since 18 January to provide testing for people with and without symptoms in the following communities: Maybole, Grangemouth, Langholm, West Linton, Sauchie, Denny, and Hawick. Data on the number of people tested and positivity rates at these sites will be published by Public Health Scotland.

In addition, waste-water tests and the most up-to-date data will be used to identify communities where asymptomatic testing is needed. Additional mobile testing will also be under-taken as a rapid response to any outbreaks.

Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said: "Targeted testing in this way will help us find and isolate more cases, by targeting resources with communities where there is high prevalence, helping us to identify more cases of the virus and giving us all a better chance of stopping it from spreading.

"However, a test only tells us if we are positive at the point in time that we are being tested.  It does not mean that we can stop following all of the rules and guidelines which are in place to protect all of us. Testing is only one layer of protection against this virus - all others, including vaccination and the FACTS guidance work to greatest effect when they work together, so it is essential people continue to follow the restrictions currently in place to suppress COVID to the lowest possible level in Scotland.

"This expansion has been made possible as our testing capacity has increased but it could not have happened without the support of our local partners, and everyone involved in Scotland's testing programme, from diagnostic staff to sample takers, and I want to pay tribute to each and every one of you as we continue to work to suppress this virus together."

Dr Linda de Caestecker, Public Health Director for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "We know that COVID-19 is often spread by people who don't have symptoms or they are so mild they do not recognise they have the infection. 

"Asymptomatic testing enables identification of infection so that people are not spreading the infection to their families, work colleagues or the wider community as they go shopping or exercising. This has the potential to reduce spread overall. That means we will be more likely to be able to reduce restrictions more quickly.  Asymptomatic testing will also help us learn about the rate of infection in people not showing signs of the virus.  Please come forward for testing to help to reduce transmission of the virus in this area. The centres will also give advice about support for isolation for people with a positive test.

"As we're asking people with no symptoms to come forward, we are highlighting the fact that it is possible to have the virus and feel absolutely fine or have vague and mild symptoms- which is why it is so important that people continue to maintain physical distancing, and use face coverings and hand-washing as additional measures of protection against the virus."

 

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