ADDITIONAL capacity for COVID-19 testing is being provided to NHS Dumfries and Galloway from national resources – allowing for daily testing in Stranraer.
This provision is being made available for an initial two-week period, at which point it will be reviewed centrally, based on local need in the wider context of COVID-19 outbreaks elsewhere in Scotland.
Daily testing has been running in Stranraer this week, and this additional provision will allow for daily testing at the Ashwood House site in Stranraer to continue for at least the next two weeks so that anyone with symptoms that may be caused by a COVID-19 infection.
Targeting of this additional national resource in Stranraer on a daily basis will also have the benefit of allowing more testing elsewhere in the region, due to the resources which were already being committed.
Members of the public with any COVID-19 symptoms (even if mild or short lived) are advised to immediately self-isolate along with their household and request a test online at www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test, or by using the telephone number 0300 303 2713.
Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “We’re very grateful for the increased testing resources provided by the Scottish Government, and intend to put it to good use.
“We are continually working with our national colleagues to secure additional testing capacity and will be looking at how best to maximise access to testing across the region.
“As positive as this extra testing capacity is, it is vital that everyone recognises the important role they play as an individual to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Testing will help identify cases, but the coronavirus does not spread by itself. Instead, it takes advantage of people coming into close contact. Keeping our distance limits that opportunity, and the national message as part of the lockdown couldn’t be clearer – stay home, and save lives.
“Rates of COVID-19 have declined in Wigtownshire but are still higher there than other parts of the region. Increased testing capacity is just part of the means to help reduce this rate, and it should definitely not be relied on as the answer to this situation.”
Additional capacity which had been secured allowed for a scaling up to daily testing in Stranraer this week. This followed an intensive period of testing at the start of the month in response to the surge of cases which then accelerated throughout the region.
Additional capacity also became available recently in the form of a unit used just twice before in Scotland for asymptomatic testing. This allowed for community testing to be trialled in the Langholm and Canonbie areas last weekend due to the relatively small size of population and the very localised geography. Learning from this will inform future approaches to testing for COVID-19.
All of these developments around testing capacity are hugely welcome, and we will continue our discussions with national testing colleagues around securing additional capacity where it is available and can be successfully applied.