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Coronavirus / Coronavirus testing facility could ease pressure on key workers

CORONAVIRUS test results could be available within hours rather than days once the necessary laboratory equipment has been installed in Lerwick, NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson has said.

The NHS boss also confirmed that the number of confirmed cases in Shetland remained unchanged at 24.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Shetland News

One patient who was described as “critically unwell” was flown to Aberdeen for intensive care on Sunday, while the other 23 are self-isolating.

“At the moment we have no patients in the Gilbert Bain who are affected by coronavirus,” Dickson added.

He said having the capability of getting tests analysed locally on the islands was essential for medical staff to respond effectively to the pandemic.

“I don’t have an exact date but we are pushing very hard to get that on the islands as soon as we possibly can,” Dickson said.

“We know that Aberdeen are starting their testing very shortly and that will reduce the turnaround time that we are currently experiencing.

“Having the test done in Aberdeen will speed things up but not as fast as having it done in Shetland, when we will be able to do the tests in a matter of hours.”

He added that the testing facility would help to reduce the time health professionals would need to go into self-isolation to protect their own health.

“Where people may have to go into self-isolation, testing may be an appropriate mechanism to allow us to release frontline key workers back into their workplace if it is being confirmed that they don’t have to self-isolate.

“We are in the best position we can be right now. I think what having testing on the islands does is an additional resource which we can deploy relatively quickly.”