Mass Covid testing is due to be rolled out in Scotland over the next few months, with every person in the country eligible for twice-weekly tests.
Lateral flow tests will be used as they offer faster results as they do not have to be sent to a lab.
What is a lateral flow test?
They use similar technology to a pregnancy test and can produce a result within 30 minutes.
It looks for antigens in the blood to detect if a person has Covid.
You just swab your nose or mouth, put it in the provided liquid before pressing it down on a strip, and wait 30 minutes.
The strip of paper will show up with two lines if it is positive (they may be faint), one line on the top if it is negative or one line on the bottom if the test is invalid.
Regular rapid Covid-19 testing is available now for parents and support bubbles of children attending nursery, school or college. Regular testing will help stop the virus spreading, keeping your family and friends safer. It’s quick and easy to do. Find out more ⬇️gov.uk/coronavirus-school-household-testing
Posted by nhs.uk on Monday, March 15, 2021
If positive, you must go online and report the result and request a PCR test.
You must also self-isolate.
Lateral flow testing is not 100% accurate so a PCR test must be undertaken to get a proper result.
Why is mass testing being brought in?
It is being rolled out to help the country return to some sort of normality and keep Covid suppressed.
The testing is a vital tool to keep on top of the virus and helps to pinpoint where Covid outbreaks are happening.
It also helps health officials track community transmission.
The World Health Organisation has said that the key to tackling Covid was testing so that countries know what the virus is doing.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “This testing will be in addition to and will supplement the additional testing routes that are in place in priority areas.
“This more universal approach to asymptomatic testing will allow us to assess the impact that might have on further suppressing transmission.”
Current testing in Scotland
At the moment, there are a number of testing facilities across the country where you can attend if you have symptoms.
There are drive-through sites at Aberdeen airport and at the Inverness Highlands and Islands university campus.
Walk-through facilities have also been set up in cities and towns across the country and the north and north-east:
- Roy Strathdee building (Aberdeen)
- Lossie Green car park (Elgin)
- Highland Council HQ car park (Inverness)
- Mossfield car park (Oban)
- Riverside car park (Wick)
Small-scale testing sites are also located in some Highland towns and villages, where mobile testing units also visit.
Home testing kits can also be requested which you can post back.
For non-symptomatic testing, a number of sites have been set up across Grampian, focusing on areas with high population or where outbreaks have happened.
Lateral flow testing is currently available to school staff and secondary school pupils, health workers and in some workplaces, such as food processing plants.
How will it work?
Ms Sturgeon offered very little explanation of how this mass testing will work when she appeared at a Covid briefing on Tuesday.
However, she did confirm that it would be a similar regime to England’s.
England is launching their mass testing programme on Friday, with everyone being given the chance to test themselves twice a week.
People will be able to obtain a test through home ordering services, workplace testing programmes, school or community testing sites or by collecting one at a local testing centre.
A new “Pharmacy Collect” initiative is also starting, where anyone over 18 without Covid symptoms is able to visit a participating pharmacy and collect a box of seven tests to be used twice a week at home.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson welcomed the start of the programme, saying they would help stop Covid-19 outbreaks “in their tracks.”
He said: “As we continue to make good progress on our vaccine programme and with our road map to cautiously easing restrictions underway, regular rapid testing is even more important to make sure those efforts are not wasted.”
Will mass testing help us live without Covid restrictions?
According to Ms Sturgeon, it is just a tool to help keep the virus suppressed, and we must still be careful to follow the current Scottish Government guidance.
She said: “You might test yourself one day and be negative, you could still be incubating the virus and it doesn’t show up on the test, or you could test negative, go out your front door and meet somebody that passes the virus to you.
“It doesn’t mean you can throw caution to the wind and just live completely normally.
“It’s got a big part to play, but it’s really important that we don’t talk about testing in a way that encourages people to stop taking all of the other precautions.”