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Healthcare staff travelling into Orkney now eligible for testing

NHS Orkney staff travelling in and out of the county are now eligible to be tested at the COVID-19 assessment centre in Kirkwall, should they have concerns about potentially spreading the virus.

Previously, there was no system of routine testing or quarantine for NHS staff travelling in and out of Orkney for work, unless they developed symptoms. The health authority has said it will not be enforcing a routine test for staff entering the county, but there is now swabbing available for those who wish to be tested.

While those travelling into Orkney will still be advised to get tested before they travel — if they are experiencing symptoms or have concerns about possibly spreading the disease — the health authority has confirmed that capacity has been made available for staff who are not able to access testing prior to arrival in the county, those who are concerned about spreading the virus, or those who develop symptoms while in-transit.

A statement from NHS Orkney, released today, Monday, said: “Orkney has been fortunate so far in the low number of COVID-19 cases identified to date.

“To ensure this remains the case the Health Board has introduced a process which facilitates testing for colleagues who have concerns in relation to their COVID-19 status prior to arriving on island. Should colleagues become unwell with symptoms consistent with COVID-19 either before or returning to Orkney they will be supported to access testing through the local keyworker testing scheme where they will be provided with a same day result.”

Iain Stewart Chief Executive Designate added: “Colleagues have been advised that testing where possible should take place before travelling to Orkney at one of the national testing centres on the mainland.

“After testing, contact with patients should be avoided to reduce the risk of any potential exposure. Anyone testing positive whilst on or off island must self-isolate for a minimum of seven days and until they have been asymptomatic for 48 hours in line with Scottish Government Guidance. However, testing is on a voluntary basis, NHS Orkney cannot insist colleagues returning to Orkney are tested”

“In exceptional circumstances and where colleagues are unable to be tested before travel and believe they have been exposed to the risk of the virus, a COVID-19 test will be undertaken in Orkney following consultation with Occupational Health or the Public Health team”.

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