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Coronavirus / Lib Dems demand meeting to discuss islands Covid testing

Lib Dems demand Covid-19 testing at entry points to Scottish islands.

WITH the Scottish parliamentary elections less than three months away the Northern Isles elected representatives are stepping up their efforts to get the government to commit to mass Covid testing at entry points to the Scottish islands.

The Lib Dems politicians first raised the issue before Christmas but they have had no specific commitment from the SNP minority government so far other than the message for people was to ‘stay at home’.

Shetland MSP Beatrice Wishart, her Orkney counterpart Liam McArthur and Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael are now demanding a meeting with Scottish Government ministers to force the issue.

The renewed call for island testing comes as no fresh Covid case has been recorded in Shetland since 9 February.

At the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 Committee on Thursday morning, national clinical director professor Jason Leitch said in response to questions from Wishart that testing in importation is crucial in managing the pandemic and he committed to “consider it afresh”.

Wishart said: “While our guard must never drop, the prevalence in Shetland is currently low. It is now imperative that we protect Shetland from further outbreaks and testing on people arriving can provide another protective layer in that.

“As Scotland’s focus moves to slowly finding our way back to normal, the point of testing those coming to Shetland becomes more important.

“This is an issue that the Scottish Government should address seriously and not waive away with a single letter response.

“I hope the Scottish Government will meet with us quickly as well as seriously engage with other stakeholders on this issue. Letting this opportunity sail away would be mistake on the part of the government.”

McArthur added: “While I’m pleased that the National Clinical Director has agreed to consider these proposals afresh, we can’t keep going back to square one on this matter.”