A VERY good response followed an invitation for people in Langholm and Canonbie areas to be tested for COVID-19 – regardless as to whether or not they were experiencing symptoms.
Community testing in this way was possible because of a spike in cases within a small geographic area with relatively small populations, plus limited access to a mobile testing unit previously trialled at two just other locations in Scotland.
Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “A total of 1179 people were tested over the four days from January 23 to January 26.
“Other people meanwhile took up the opportunity of home testing kits, or testing opportunities in Carlisle and Annan.
“A relatively small number of new cases were identified on each day, totalling 23 newly-identified COVID-19 cases in the DG13 and DG14 postcode areas.
“Those people and their close contacts are now being advised to self-isolate to help bring down the local spike in cases, and work is taking place to examine the data and see what lessons can be learned to inform any similar approach within Dumfries and Galloway and nationally.”
This community testing was in response to a local increase in cases in the DG13 and DG14 areas – with 117 since the beginning of the year from an area with an estimated population of just over 3700 people.
Gratitude is expressed to colleagues in national testing who agreed to despatch a mobile testing unit which had only carried out trials in asymptomatic testing in two other locations in Scotland.
It has been suggested that wider asymptomatic COVID-19 testing may be something which becomes more commonplace in Scotland, and this four days of testing in Langholm will help inform future approaches.
A very sincere apology is extended over problems which arose on the first day of testing which meant some people who made appointments were unable to be tested.
Issues arose at the national testing unit at Langholm around availability of testing kits, which resulted in shortages towards the end of the day on Saturday. We took this up with our national testing colleagues and this was rectified for the other three days of testing.
This testing provides results for a specific point in time, so everyone within the DG13 and DG14 postcode areas is being reminded to remain on their guard, follow the national guidance, and if symptoms develop to immediately self-isolate and arrange to be tested.
Ms White said: “This period of testing was made possible through the availability of this trial national testing unit, the scale of the testing undertaken in this focused area, and the fantastic response from the community. The learning from this will inform future approaches to testing for COVID-19.
“A sincere thanks to everyone who came forward to be tested.”