Island testing at entry points being considered

The National Clinical Director today confirmed that coronavirus testing before arrival to the islands is being considered, following questioning from Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart.

At a meeting of the Holyrood’s Covid-19 Committee, Ms Wishart asked what consideration the Scottish Government has given to testing ahead of travel to the islands. She noted that “Where there are low levels of the virus, we should be doing everything possible to keep it that way.”

Responding, the National Clinical Director, Professor Jason Leitch, confirmed “we are thinking about [it]”, whilst recognising the continued need for quarantine measures. Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, Mike Russell said, “we should look at it as a suggestion and treat it very seriously.”

Ms Wishart, along with Northern Isles colleagues Liam McArthur MSP and Alistair Carmichael MP, wrote to the Scottish Government last December calling for exploration of options for mass testing at points of entry to the Scottish islands.

Commenting, Ms Wishart said:

“I’m pleased that government is looking in to Covid testing ahead entry to the islands. However this is an issue that needs to be dealt with quickly and not mulled over. My colleagues and I wrote to the Transport Secretary and Health Secretary on the matter before Christmas but we are yet to receive a reply.

“Constituents point out that we could have a geographic advantage in stopping the spread of Covid. Getting to the islands is naturally more restricted than to other areas of the country so it seems feasible to bring in testing for people before they arrive.

“Professor Leitch and the Cabinet Secretary point out that testing on its own won’t be enough, and we all need to stick with social distancing measures and quarantine to reduce the chances of importation and spread of the virus. But where there are low levels of the virus, we should be doing everything possible to keep it that way.”

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