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Coronavirus / Lerwick Covid-19 testing centre moves to new location

Work to build a testing facility getting under way at the former NHS Shetland headquarters at Brevik in May. Photo: John Waters

THE COVID-19 testing centre currently being built at the old NHS Shetland headquarters at Brevik will not be used for the new UK Government scheme that entitles anyone with symptoms to request a test, the local health board has confirmed.

NHS Shetland said on Tuesday that the work underway would allow the existing testing facility at the Gilbert Bain car park to move to a new location.

The additional space in the Brevik House car park allows for some shelter for nurses so that a swab can be taken without the patient leaving their car, and it also frees up some space in the hospital car park as services look to restart in the coming weeks and months.

Work on the facility is expected to be completed by the end of next week.

The health board’s consultant for public health Susan Laidlaw said that testing would continue to be by appointment only for people referred for swabbing by occupational health, public health or other clinical reasons.

Tests will be analysed in the health board’s own laboratory at the Gilbert Bain Hospital and results will usually be available within an hour.

The local testing programme is separate from the UK Government initiative which gives everyone aged five or over and who is self isolating because they have symptoms of Covid-19 the opportunity to be tested.

This programme was announced by health secretary Matt Hancock last week and is expected to be available in Shetland from later this week.

“The Brevik testing arrangements should not be confused with the ‘drive-through’ facilities seen on the UK mainland which form part of the UK Government testing programme,” Dr Laidlaw said.

“We are working hard with the UK and Scottish governments to find a local solution to delivering this programme and we will shortly be offering access to self-swabbing kits for people with symptoms to perform the swab at home.

“The swabs will then get sent to the new Lighthouse laboratory in Glasgow for analysis and results. As soon as we know exactly when this will be available in Shetland and how every aspect will work, we will let the community know.

“We are very keen to get this scheme up and running in Shetland but there have been some very difficult technical and logistical issues to resolve which have held up implementation.”

The Scottish Government confirmed on Monday that 450 testing kits would be supplied per week across Shetland, Orkney and the Western Isles.

A spokeswoman for the government said: “Logistics for distribution of kits and supply of any required PPE lies with the islands health boards, but Shetland have put in place procedures to manage this and have drivers available to deliver kits across the islands.”