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Coronavirus / Temporary Covid testing unit to open in Lerwick

The Gilbertson Park games hall. Photo © Stuart Taylor (cc-by-sa/2.0)

A TEMPORARY Covid-19 testing unit sent by the Scottish Government and staffed by the ambulance service is being set up at the Gilbertson Park in Lerwick in response to the current outbreak in Shetland.

The unit and staff will arrive in Shetland tomorrow (Friday), ready to start testing in the Gilbertson Park Games Hall at 10am before closing at 4pm.

The unit will then be open through the weekend, starting at 9am every day until Thursday next week, and it will be available for walk-in Covid testing.

Tests will be sent to the UK Government lab for processing. It is expected there will also be a web link for people to make appointments.

Operating times are:

  • Fri: 9am-4pm
  • Sat: 9am-5pm
  • Sun: 9am-5pm
  • Mon: 9am-3pm (early closure due to team swap over)
  • Tue: 9am-5pm
  • Wed: 9am-5pm
  • Thu: 9am-4pm

This is an extra service and the normal testing services are all still operating.

The testing facility is in response to the continued increase of Covid-19 cases in Shetland which started just before Christmas in the North Mainland, but which is now presenting in people across Shetland with no obvious route of infection.

Professor Shantini Paranjothy, a consultant in public health currently supporting NHS Shetland, said that as part of the health board’s response to the outbreak anyone who has mild symptoms including the chills, a dry or productive cough, sore throat, headache, runny nose, shortness of breath, general weakness, muscle pain, diarrhoea, or loss of taste/smell should be tested.

“We have been experiencing an increase in the number of people requesting tests recently so we have set up a walk-in testing site in Lerwick to make it easier for people to access testing,” she said.

Professor Paranjothy said the temporary testing centre was a short-term increase in capacity.

“This is in addition to our usual routes for testing, to ensure that we have enough capacity to test everyone who needs a test and reduce spread in the community.”

Anyone who tests positive will be asked to isolate along with their household and close contacts for ten days, she said.

Anyone who has been asked to isolate as a contact should continue to do for the full duration of their isolation period even if they have a negative test.

This is because it can take time for the infection to develop after exposure and a negative test on one day does not exclude the possibility that you may become positive in following days.

Whilst testing helps to identify cases early and reduce transmission, it will still be important for everyone to continue to follow the guidance on hand hygiene, distancing, and reducing social contacts to reduce the risk of becoming infected.

NHS Shetland said it would like to thank Shetland Islands Council for making the Gilbertson Park games hall available for this purpose at short notice.