Wishart presses for update on Island coronavirus testing capacity

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart has today (Thursday) sought an update on testing capacity in Scotland’s Islands as the Test and Protect strategy is rolled out across health boards.

During virtual Health questions, Ms Wishart noted that demand for tests will rise significantly with the move to the Test and Protect and strategy. Ms Wishart asked Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, for an update on how local capacity will be increased to meet this demand and given the hurdles to accessing testing in island communities.

The Health Secretary said that an agreement had been reached to use “satellite sites” in the Islands and to ensure that the necessary chemicals and testing kits are available on site. Ms Freeman committed to providing an update to MSPs.

Ms Wishart also asked for an update on the First Minister’s comment last week that “it will be important” to publish local testing data. The Health Secretary replied that the Government is looking at what data can be provided from the Test and Protect strategy, and in what frequency.

Commenting Ms Wishart said:

“From today anyone aged over five with symptoms is eligible to be tested, but there is still some concern about what is available locally and how long it takes to get a result. These services need to be ample and local, if ‘Test and Protect’ is going to work.

“For people to have confidence that testing and tracing is being carried out efficiently we also need to see how many tests are being conducted per health board. Without this information, the data on confirmed cases and deaths is out of context. That could undermine public understanding.

“As lockdown measures are eased people will be able to do more of the things that haven’t be possible for many weeks, like meeting friends outside. People need the full facts to be able to do this safely and confidently.”

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