Health Minister Jeane Freeman has announced that research in areas with high coronavirus prevalence would begin next year (COVID-19).
In a statement to Parliament on Scottish research and vaccine services, Freeman indicated that community testing tools would be targeted following successful trials in early December for areas with high transmission rates.
In early January, local authorities will be encouraged to request plans to assist the initiative with additional funding and services, including mobile testing units and sites for asymptomatic testing.
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In order to assess COVID prevalence, waste water sampling by SEPA and Scottish Water will be extended from 60 to around 200 tests per week across Scotland by the end of January, funded by an additional £ 1.1 million in funding.
Discussions on two models of school research to be piloted in January are also ongoing with local authorities. The first model would include testing using lateral flow equipment in school, while the second will include collecting samples at home for PCR testing.
To supplement local and mobile solutions for people in remote and rural areas, the use of larger centers in heavily populated areas such as Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Aberdeen and Lanarkshire is being explored.
NHS boards were also asked to continue recruitment and redeployment, with the aim of securing by the end of January about 1400 vaccinators and 800 support staff.
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“Ms. Freeman said, “As I explained in Parliament today, I want to acknowledge the enormous effort that has been made to make possible what has already been accomplished through our testing and vaccination initiatives and what we can accomplish.
“Each of these services poses a significant logistical obstacle in and of itself. To make it happen, many people from various organisations and societies have come together, and I want to record my sincere thanks to everyone involved.
At the end of an already extremely difficult year, these are incredibly tough times for everyone, but this sustained expansion of our testing and vaccination services will help us meet the challenge we face in reducing COVID rates to the lowest possible levels in Scotland.
In our work, these are vital tools to push the virus to the lowest possible levels in Scotland, but they are just as important as the other steps we have in place, like the Levels strategy, improved funding for our NHS and care sector, and, most significantly, people doing the right thing by following Evidence, both of which are crucial to preventing the spread of this dangerous virus.