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Coronavirus / Covid test result delays ‘very disruptive’

THERE have been instances of people in Shetland waiting four to five days for a PCR Covid test result because of delays at the Glasgow processing laboratory.

NHS Shetland’s interim director of public health Dr Susan Laidlaw that this has been “very disruptive” for people.

But as the delays stemmed from the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow, where some isles tests are processed, there was nothing NHS Shetland could do about it.

A meeting of the health board on Tuesday also heard that there is no capability in Shetland to assess whether positive PCR tests processed locally are of the Omicron variant.

At the moment priority PCR tests, which are more sensitive than lateral flow devices, are dealt with at the local laboratory in Lerwick.

Priority people include health and care staff, hospital patients and those with clinical needs.

Other tests are sent to Glasgow and results are generally coming back around 36 hours, or up to two days, later.

NHS Shetland’s interim director for public health Dr Susan Laidlaw.

But Dr Laidlaw told a meeting of the Shetland health board on Tuesday about some delays associated with the Glasgow lab.

Many of those who have taken a PCR test due to Covid symptoms or contact tracing have to isolate until the results come back.

Dr Laidlaw stressed though that NHS Shetland has the capacity to maintain its service.

Speaking about Omicron, the public health official said positive tests are assessed for the variant in Glasgow, not Shetland.

They can be checked for the likelihood of Omicron before genome sequencing can give a firmer indication.

Dr Laidlaw also reiterated that generally PCR tests are for people who display Covid symptoms or who have had a positive lateral flow result.

Lateral flow tests are meant for people who are not showing Covid symptoms.

But at the moment there is a national supply issue which is affecting quantities of tests available.

A spokesperson for NHS Shetland said there are still some supplies available at the Test and Protect centre at the Greenhead Base in Lerwick, and more are on order.

Health and social care workers, school staff/secondary pupils and anyone else who get them through work should not use the community routes to obtaining tests.