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Coronavirus / Supermarket starts selling lateral flows ahead of testing guidance change

Meanwhile the Scottish Government has confirmed face coverings won’t be mandatory from Monday onwards

COVID lateral flow tests are now being sold for £2 a pop locally at Tesco ahead of guidance on testing changing next week.

As it stands in Scotland the general public will no longer be asked to test if they have no Covid symptoms from Monday onwards (18 April).

Photo: Shetland News

Until the end of April people who have Covid symptoms will still be able to access a PCR test.

For any purpose for which testing – PCR or lateral flow – continues to be advised, the Scottish Government will ensure that these remain available free of charge.

There will still be a requirement for people to undertake lateral flow tests for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting vulnerable individuals in care homes or hospitals.

But lateral flow tests being sold in shops is perhaps a sign of the shift towards living with Covid.

Tesco previously announced it would sell lateral flows when free tests were phased out in England at the start of April, and as a national chain they have been appearing across the UK – including Shetland.

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson said tests appearing in supermarkets does not mean that free ones have gone away yet.

“They are a national chain, and that’s why they are appearing,” he said.

“If people still want access to lateral flows locally they can still order them online or we have sites where people can go to to pick up lateral flow tests.”

The Scottish Government also says that from the end of April the general public will no longer be advised to seek any test if they have symptoms. Instead, public health guidance will change to staying at home if unwell “until they feel better”.

Free lateral flow tests kits are still available at pick-up points in Shetland over the next few days.

People can collect ones today (Thursday) from the Brae leisure centre between midday and 3pm, and the NorthLink ferry terminal from 4.30pm to 6.30pm.

On Friday they can be collected at the Clickimin between 2pm and 6pm, and on Saturday tests will be available from the Brae leisure centre (10am to 1pm) and the Aith leisure centre (2.30pm to 4.30pm).

Finally there will be tests on offer at the NorthLink terminal on Sunday between 7.30am and 8.30am.

Prior to the change of guidance on Monday tests are also available locally at the Test and Protect centre in Lerwick and via North Isles health centre dispensaries.

Source: Scottish Government

Meanwhile the Scottish Government has now confirmed plans to remove the legal requirement for face coverings in certain venues – such as shops – from Monday.

The move had been delayed due to the number of Covid cases in Scotland.

But people will still be recommended to wear face coverings in crowded indoor places and public transport.

First minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “In recent weeks we have seen steady progress as we move back to a greater sense of normality and a more sustainable way of managing this virus.

“However our NHS is still under pressure and the most vulnerable members of our society can still benefit from additional measures to protect them from the virus.

“That is why although the use of face coverings will become guidance rather than a legal requirement I strongly recommend members of the public continue wearing face coverings in indoor settings where possible, and particularly when significant numbers of people are present.

“We should also all continue to follow the latest advice on hygiene, ventilation, testing and of course vaccination to protect ourselves and each other.”

On Wednesday the latest government figures showed a further 64 Covid cases have been confirmed in Shetland.

Shetland News will report more on the local health board’s views on Monday’s rule changes later today.