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Community Asymptomatic Test site opens in Johnstone

Testing for up 12,000 residents without symptoms available at drop-in site.

Scotland’s first community testing site for people without symptoms to get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19) was yesterday opened in Johnstone, Renfrewshire.

Up to 12,000 asymptomatic residents will be able to be tested at the drop-in test site, located at Johnstone Town Hall, over the next eight days.

Residents will be tested using lateral flow devices, which can give people their results in around 45 minutes. Any positive cases will then be confirmed by PCR test.

The Community Asymptomatic Test (CAT) site is the first of its kind in Scotland and forms part of a community testing pilot announced by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman last week to trial wider community testing in five local authority areas where transmission rates remain stubbornly high.

Six Mobile Testing Units and 20,000 Home Testing Kits are being deployed to test asymptomatic people who live in targeted communities across Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East and South Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire, and the results of these trials will inform wider expansion of targeted community testing planned for early January.

Over 4,155 people have already been tested through the existing sites that have been set up in Dalmarnock, West Pollokshields, Stewarton, Girvan, and Alloa.

Ms Freeman yesterday said:

“The opening of this site is an important milestone in the expansion of Scotland’s testing programme to contain and suppress COVID to the lowest possible level, particularly in high prevalence areas like Renfrewshire.

“There is no need to book in advance and I encourage everyone who lives, works or attends school in Johnstone to get tested over the next week. As well as helping to slow spread of the virus locally, the results of the community testing pilots will also inform our plans for wider community testing from January next year.

“Our plans for significantly expanded testing in Scotland provide another layer of protection for our communities, our extraordinary health and social care staff and the people they serve, and they are fully aligned with the clear advice from the senior clinical and scientific advisers who reviewed our Testing Strategy.

“This expansion has been made possible as our testing capacity has increased but it could not have happened without the support of our local partners, and everyone involved in Scotland’s testing programme, from diagnostic staff to sample takers, and I want to pay tribute to each and every one of you as we continue to work to suppress this virus together.”

Renfrewshire Council Leader Iain Nicolson, yesterday said:

“Identifying asymptomatic people in our communities is an important step in the country’s response to coronavirus and it is welcome Johnstone has been chosen to feature in the pilot for mass testing. Testing on such a large scale will help our partners better understand the prevalence of the virus and provide crucial information to inform the approach to mass testing in the months ahead.

"I would appeal for as many people as possible in Johnstone to come along and find out whether they are unknowingly carrying the virus or not. With cases remaining high in the area, the testing centre is our chance to help slow the spread of the virus locally, protect family and friends and help us get back to normal more quickly.”

NHSGGC’s Director of Public Health Dr Linda de Caestecker yesterday said:

“There are several potential benefits to carrying out mass testing like this, including helping us to learn about the rate of infection in people not showing signs of the virus, and early identification of positive asymptomatic cases will also help us prevent onward transmission to their family or the community.

“As we’re asking people with no symptoms to come forward for the first time, we hope we can also raise public awareness that it is possible to have the virus and feel absolutely fine – which is why it is so important to people continue to maintain social distancing, and use face coverings and hand-washing as additional measures of protection against the virus.

“I would encourage as many people as possible in Johnstone to get tested. It is a quick and easy process, and could help us get out of some of the restrictions we are currently living under faster.”

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