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coronavirus

New COVID-19 testing unit put into action at The Balfour

From left: Eamonn Keyes, laboratory manager; Sarah Robinson-Hamilton, microbiology biomedical scientist, and Lorna Wilson, lead microbiology biomedical scientist.

Up to 250 COVID-19 tests a week can now be undertaken by NHS Orkney, after the installation of new on-site testing equipment at The Balfour.

Previously, samples taken in Orkney had to be flown south to NHS Grampian in order to be tested for the virus, taking up to 48 hours to return a result.

Following a successful validation exercise, the health authority announced today, Tuesday, that it had commenced testing for COVID-19 at The Balfour, with test results being available in less than two hours from receipt of specimens.

Eamonn Keyes, laboratory manager said: “This will enable us to process up to 250 tests a week, rising to 400 if necessary over a short period of time.

“Previously this took between 24-48 hours as the specimens had to be flown to NHS Grampian on the single daily flight from Kirkwall. The introduction of this technology is a huge step forward in aiding in early diagnosis of COVID-19 disease here in Orkney.”

As it stands, only those who are in need of hospital treatment are being tested for the virus, alongside key workers and members of their household displaying symptoms.

It is understood that a number of people who are suspected to have the virus have been asked to continue self-isolating at home while they are regularly monitored by health professionals by telephone. These patients will only undergo testing if they need to be admitted to hospital.