People living in a Scots town near Dumfries can now access Covid-19 testing – even if they aren’t showing symptoms.
Asymptomatic people in the DG8 and DG9 postcodes in Stranraer can now book a same-day test, in a bid to bring down cases in the area, following a spike in positive tests at the end of last year.
The interim director of public health for NHS Dumfries and Galloway, Valerie White, said: “Although rates have fallen, access to testing for people without symptoms will hopefully mean that additional, undetected cases in the community can be picked up and the presence of the virus driven down further.
“It’s really important that numbers are driven right down, not just to help protect ourselves, our loved ones and communities, but also to provide the basis for a move out of lockdown.”
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The move came as part of a national strategy to expand testing to catch asymptomatic cases after small-scale trials took place in Langholm and Canonbie.
“Testing of people both with and without covid symptoms is something we’re likely to see becoming more commonplace in Scotland,” said Ms White.
Dumfries and Galloway registered 196 positive cases at the end of December. These dropped down to 14 in the first week of February, but 28 cases were confirmed in Stranraer alone between January 29 and February 4, one of the highest positive rates in the area per 100,000 people.
Local mass testing helped curb the spike in Langholm and Canonbie but three cases were still reported last week against the Langholm and Eskdale region’s small population of 3,700.
Although testing will help identify cases, she warned people are still at risk of passing on the virus.
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“The coronavirus does not spread by itself. Instead, it takes advantage of people coming into close contact,” she added. “Keeping a distance from others limits that opportunity, and the national message as part of the lockdown couldn’t be clearer – stay home, and save lives.”
A testing unit is in place at Ashwood House in Stranraer, seven days a week, with testing taking place from 11am to 4pm.
Residents are advised to book in advance and those without symptoms should click the option to say that they have ‘been asked to get a follow-up test’ and then the option that they are ‘taking part in community testing’.
Mobile units across the region will continue to provide tests, with the new asymptomatic centre in Stranraer and a fixed-location site in Dumfries offering extra testing capacity.
A test can be booked at the health board’s website.
More information on coronavirus and testing in Scotland is available here.