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NHS Orkney issues test guideline reminder as requests spike

NHS Orkney’s public health team has issued a reminder to the public about the eligibility criteria for coronavirus testing, after witnessing a “sharp spike” in the number of requests for swabbing.

According to the health authority, there has been a noticeable increase in requests for testing since schools went back, particularly from parents concerned for their children.

Sara Lewis, NHS Orkney’s consultant in public health, said: “To ensure we do everything we can to prevent a rise in cases, we need to remind people how the testing system works.

“Firstly, only people who are symptomatic need a test unless you are explicitly asked to get a test by Public Health as part of the management of an outbreak.

“The symptoms are the onset of a persistent cough, or a temperature/fever or a loss of taste or smell. You only need one of these to be tested. This can be done by visiting the NHS Inform website – www.nhsinform.scot.

“You do not need to call NHS 24 to organise a test please contact the NHS Orkney testing helpline on 01856 888211 during the hours of 9.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday.

“I also want to stress that, while family members need to self-isolate if someone in their household develops symptoms, they do not need to be tested unless they themselves go on to develop symptoms. If you are contacted by Test and Protect to tell you that you are a close contact of somebody with COVID-19, you do not require a test but you must isolate for 14 days. A test will not change the need to self-isolate.

“If you do develop COVID symptoms and are ill and are worried about your health, you should call NHS 24 on 111. Please do not call NHS 24 unless you feel you need medical advice to deal with your illness.

“It’s also important that parents do not take their children to The Balfour emergency department for a test. We don’t want potentially infected children at the hospital if they don’t need to go and it can take resource away from those people who really need to be in the emergency department.

“I want to thank everyone for their continued patience with the system. We all need to work together as we enter this next phase in the fight against the virus.”