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Coronavirus / Busy temporary Covid testing facility identifies four positive cases

The unit, at the Gilbertson Park games hall, closes tomorrow afternoon

Photo: BBC Radio Shetland

AROUND 50 people a day have been coming to the temporary Covid testing unit in Lerwick, with four positive tests returned so far.

Professor Shantini Paranjothy, a consultant in public health currently supporting NHS Shetland, said the unit – which closes on Thursday afternoon – has proved a success.

Meanwhile, there have now been confirmed cases recorded in Yell.

The Scottish Government testing unit, staffed by around 10 ambulance service personnel, opened on Friday morning and by the close of play on Monday nearly 200 folk had come through.

Paranjothy said it was a “very slick service” which operates across Scotland, going where there is a need.

She said the aim is to increase accessibility to testing in the hope of identifying as many cases as possible and isolate them to reduce transmission.

“The set up and everything was really quite smooth and it’s gone really well,” Paranjothy said.

The unit was brought in to provide additional testing capacity in Shetland following the outbreak of cases which originated in the north mainland before Christmas.

Public health professor Shantini Paranjothy. Photo: Cardiff University

Paranjothy said that the decision to open the facility was taken by NHS Shetland’s incident management team in an effort to control the outbreak.

“One of things was, let’s see if we can increase the capacity in testing for a short period to try and identify more cases and reduce transmission,” she added.

People with cold-like symptoms including a sore throat, headache and runny nose have been encouraged to come forward to the unit.

Paranjothy said there has been a “good mix” of symptoms being presented so far.

“At this point we’re really just interested in testing as many people as possible, so we ask about symptoms but we’ve widened the number of symptoms for this period because we know that the virus is circulating.”

She said if someone thinks they have been exposed to coronavirus in any way or have any of the classic or milder cold-like symptoms, then they should get a test.

If you live in an outer isle, “use our usual service and we’ll get a van and swab up to you”.

Paranjothy reiterated that if someone receives a negative test result and they have symptoms, then they should isolate because they could in theory test positive at a later date.

“With Covid, a negative test is only valid at that point in time,” she said. “It could be that you’re still incubating.

“Unfortunately with Covid a positive test is very useful, and a negative test is less useful.”

Paranjothy said that social contact is a key factor in the transmission in Shetland.

Once the mobile testing unit departs Shetland the health board is advising people to use its self-referral service.

The temporary unit will be open today until 5pm, and tomorrow from 9am to 4pm. People can walk in, or book appointments online.

On Tuesday another five confirmed Covid cases in Shetland were confirmed, bringing the cumulative total since the outbreak last spring to 200.

While cases are dotted around Shetland, there are now a number of cases recorded in Yell.

Last week deaths of two local patients who had confirmed Covid were included in government statistics.