Changes as community testing is wound down

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Sub-heading: Arran Test Centre to close at end of April

By Hugh Boag

As the last Covid-19 restrictions are relaxed this month, the testing programme is also changing.


It’s been more than two years since the start of the global pandemic and since then, testing for Covid-19 has become part of our everyday lives. As a result of Scotland’s successful vaccine programme, as well as access to new treatments for Covid-19, mass testing is coming to an end.

Jackie Lumsden, NHS Ayrshire & Arran mass testing programme manager, explained: ‘The aim of the mass testing programme was to encourage members of the public to take regular lateral flow tests (LFTs) even if they didn’t have symptoms. Throughout the pandemic, it has been really important for us to identify cases quickly so that we can protect those most vulnerable.

‘However, from mid-April, the mass testing programme will change. Testing will change from population-wide testing to reduce transmission, to a targeted response, which will be more focused on reducing severe harm of the virus.

‘This means that from mid-April, we will not be asking the general public to test themselves regularly if they are well and don’t have Covid-19 symptoms. However, if you do have symptoms, you should still isolate and book a PCR test until the end of April.’


Pharmacy collection is no longer be available on the island or elsewhere. However, until April 18, members of the public living or on holiday on Arran will still be able to order kits online via https://test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk/order-lateral-flow-kits/ or by calling 119.

From April 18, LFT kit collection from test sites elsewhere in Scotland will cease.
People without symptoms will only be able to access LFT kits if they are a close contact of someone with Covid-19, or if they are visiting a hospital or care home. Access will be via the online portal.

If you have symptoms, you should still isolate and book a PCR test – on the island this will continue to be carried out at Brodick Health Centre. Test appointments on Arran can be accessed by calling 01770 601033 until the Arran Test Centre closes on April 30.

From May 1, access to PCR testing for the wider population with symptoms will end. Physical test sites will close. This includes the UK Government walk-through and drive-through sites on the mainland.

Contact tracing will end as a population wide measure, but instead will be delivered by local public health teams and will be targeted at high-risk settings.

Ms Lumsden added: ‘Until May 1, anyone with Covid-19 symptoms should continue to isolate and book a PCR test. Remember tests must be booked in advance by calling the local number. After this date, help to keep families, friends and communities safe by staying at home if you have symptoms.’

Lisa Davidson, assistant director public health, added: ‘Testing regularly and contact tracing have become part of our daily life. While we will still have some access to both, this will be a more targeted approach.

‘It is, therefore, more important than ever for members of the public who have Covid-19 symptoms to stay at home to aid recovery and to reduce the risk of passing the illness onto others.

‘I’d like to thank all staff who have been part of our testing teams and have helped to provide easy access to tests – both for those with symptoms and those without. I’d also like to thank staff who joined our team of contact tracers. Both teams have worked incredibly hard and have adapted quickly and efficiently to provide these vital services throughout the pandemic.’

 

The Arran Test Centre in Brodick will close at the end of the month. 01_B15test01