News

Community testing to be introduced from January

Published: 23 Dec 2020 17:06

Targeted approach planned for high prevalence areas.

Community testing in areas with high coronavirus (COVID-19) prevalence will begin in January, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman has announced today.

In a statement to Parliament on Scotland’s testing and vaccination programmes, Ms Freeman confirmed that community testing resources will be targeted at communities with high transmission rates, following successful trials in early December.

Local authorities will be asked to submit proposals for the programme in early January, which will be delivered in partnership with NHS Boards and supported with additional funding and resources, including mobile testing units and asymptomatic test sites, to provide PCR and lateral flow testing respectively.

In order to better target community testing, waste water sampling undertaken by SEPA and Scottish Water to track COVID prevalence will be expanded from 60 to around 200 tests per week throughout Scotland by the end of January, supported by £1.1 million in additional funding.

Discussions with local authorities are also underway regarding two models of school testing to be trialled in January. The first model will involve in-school testing using lateral flow devices, while the second will involve at-home sampling for PCR testing.

Ms Freeman also confirmed that a total of 56,676 people have received their first dose in the first two weeks of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, which aims to vaccinate all those on the JCVI prioritisation list by the end of Spring 2021. Once this group is complete, vaccination will start for the wider population, subject to available supplies.

The use of larger centres in heavily populated areas such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen, and Lanarkshire is being investigated to supplement local and mobile solutions for those in remote and rural areas.

NHS Boards have also been asked to continue recruitment and redeployment, with the aim of securing around 1400 vaccinators and 800 support staff by the end of January.

Ms Freeman said:

“I want to acknowledge the sheer effort that has been put in to enable what has been delivered already through our testing and vaccination programmes, and what we will deliver, as I have set out in Parliament today.

“Each of these programmes presents a major logistical challenges in and of themselves. Many people from different organisations and communities have come together to make them possible and I want to put on record my sincere thanks to everyone involved.

“These are incredibly tough times for everyone, at the end of what has already been an incredibly tough year, but this continued expansion of our testing and vaccination programmes will help us meet the challenge we face to drive down COVID rates in Scotland to the lowest possible level.

“Both are vital tools in our work to suppress the virus to the lowest possible level in Scotland, but they are only as important as the other measures we have including the Levels approach, enhanced support for our NHS and care sectors and critically, individuals doing the right thing by following FACTS – all of which are crucial to prevent the spread of this harmful virus through our communities.” 

Background

COVID Vaccines and Testing Programmes: Health Secretary's statement Wednesday 23 December - gov.scot 

Remember FACTS for a safer Scotland:

F – Face coverings
A – Avoid crowded places
C – Clean your hands regularly
T – Two metres distance
S – Self isolate and book a test if you have symptoms