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coronavirus

Test and Protect underway at NHS Orkney

Testing for coronavirus is now open to anyone in the community.

Test and Protect — the national strategy aimed at managing the spread of COVID-19 and breaking the chain of transmission — is formally underway in Orkney.

The programme means testing is now open to anyone in the community displaying symptoms of COVID-19 — whether it be a new continuous cough, a fever and/or a loss of taste or smell.

If an individual tests positive they will be required to isolated for at least seven days, while anyone else in their household will isolate for fourteen days.

Confirmed cases will also be interviewed by NHS Orkney staff to establish who they have been in close, prolonged, contact with. Depending on the outcome of those interviews, some contacts could also be advised to isolate for 14 days.

Dr Louise Wilson, director of public health for NHS Orkney, said: “As lockdown restrictions are gradually eased, Test and Protect will enable us to identify positive cases — and their contacts — and break the chain of transmission.

“It’s important to really clear at the outset of this; isolation is not the same as physical distancing. People who are asked to isolate must not leave their home for any reason for either seven days (minimum) or fourteen days, depending on their circumstances.

“We know this is a significant undertaking but I am confident people in the county will see the value in this approach.”

Tests can be arranged by calling 01856 888 211 between 9.30am to 7pm, Monday to Friday, and 9.30am to 12pm on Saturdays.

Tests will take place either in the community assessment centre in the health centre at the old Balfour Hospital site or in GP surgeries for people living in the outer isles.

Testing must be booked in advance and will only be provided to those people experiencing the symptoms listed above.

Dr Wilson added: “It is important to see Test and Protect as an additional measure to manage COVID-19. It is not a substitute for continued physical distancing, good cough and sneeze etiquette, and thorough handwashing. It’s really important we all continue to practice these things and minimise the potential spread of this virus.

“The last two months — and more — have been difficult but the work of everyone in the community has been very important in successfully minimising the burden on our health and social care services. We need to keep following the guidance, even as lockdown is slowly eased, to ensure continued success.”

People should now think about what support they might need, if asked to isolate, and get a plan in place. This could include identifying friends or relatives who could shop for groceries or collect prescriptions.

People who may struggle if asked to isolate will be able to access additional support when isolating by contacting 0800 111 4000.

Detailed guidance on Test and Protect is available on the Scottish Government website.

Information on Test and Protect will also be delivered to every home in Scotland from this week onwards.​

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