Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, has today (Thursday) called for the Scottish Government to place a greater emphasis on localised testing and tracing.
During Portfolio Questions, Mr McArthur highlighted how a localised approach reduces the turnaround time for confirming results and getting in touch with those who may have been in contact with someone testing positive for Covid-19. This is crucial to the success of contact tracing and controlling the virus. Mr McArthur therefore pressed the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman to ensure that areas such as Orkney have the equipment and capacity they need to allow local testing and tracing to happen as far as possible.
In response, Ms Freeman agreed that it is important to reduce the turnaround time for results and provided assurances that the Scottish Government would consider what more they could do to achieve this in island communities.
Following the exchange, Mr McArthur commented:
“As the Scottish Government begins to lift more restrictions, it is imperative that we have a test and trace system that is as effective as possible in suppressing the virus. That means ensuring that any contact tracing following a positive case happens immediately to minimise the risk of the virus spreading further.
“While central testing facilities have an important role to play in the test and protect system, there’s no doubt that a localised approach delivers huge benefits, not least in achieving faster turnaround times. It will also build public confidence and compliance in the system, which will contribute to its success and ultimately keep people safe.
“I know from conversations with NHS Orkney recently that this is what they are looking to achieve. I welcome the Cabinet Secretary’s recognition of the benefits of such an approach and her commitment to ensure island health boards, including Orkney, have the resources they need to deliver it successfully. It is a commitment I will be holding her to in the weeks and months ahead”.