A leading public health consultant believes the Covid-19 testing regime in the north-east has “started well” with more than 1,000 checks now carried out.
Test and Protect is NHS Scotland’s initiative, which is aimed at breaking the cycle of transmission of coronavirus in the community. NHS Grampian said it is well under way in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray with more than 1,000 of the checks having taken place since it began last Thursday.
The health board have also said 180 have been trained as contact tracers and they were recruited from the NHS, health and social care partnerships and from across a host of public sector organisations including Aberdeen City, Moray and Aberdeenshire councils and Grampian Housing Association.
Dr Tara Shivaji, consultant in public health medicine for NHS Grampian, said the scheme is off to a good start.
She said they are also able to offer help to those who have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
Dr Shivaji said: “We have been increasing our testing capacity so we are able to offer a test to everyone who needs one.
“We think it has started well. Out of 1,000 tests we had a few positive tests and been able to follow them and their contacts.
“The other advantage of this is that we are able to point people towards the local support services that are available.
“The Grampian coronavirus assistance hub has lots of different support for people like finance, shopping and even walking the dog.
“These are important things if we are to be effective in isolating because the contacts need to isolate at home for 14 days.
“It is a key part of what we offer.”
North-east health bosses hope to add another 50 contact tracers to the 180 already working as part of Test and Protect with training already taking place for the new recruits.
Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus is being told to isolate immediately and book a test as soon as possible.
Symptoms of the virus can include a new, persistent cough, high temperature or loss or change in taste or smell.
Dr Shivaji said the contact tracers need to speak to those who test positive for Covid-19 and work with them to find out about their actions in the days leading up to it.
She said: “If someone has been showing symptoms, they get a test and if that is positive they will get a call from one of our contact tracers.
“Our contact tracers are speaking to people who are positive and find out a lot about them – like what they have been doing in the two days before they became ill.
“What they are trying to do is find those people who are carrying the virus but don’t know it and that is who we want to isolate.
“The support from our partners meant we are able to find enough people to support this service which has been great.”
Covid-19 tests can be booked easily by calling 0800 028 2816 or online at www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus