Western Isles starts its own Covid-19 testing service

Coronavirus tests, that can give results within three hours, are now available in the Western Isles.

On Monday NHS Western Isles began testing for SARS-CoV-2 virus, the coronavirus that causes Covid-19 infection.

Previously, samples had to be sent to the mainland and the tests took a day or more to come back.

Sampling packs are being distributed to the Uists and to Barra, rolling out access to the Stornoway laboratory testing service across the islands.

The machine is capable of a maximum of 64 tests a day.

In line with current national guidance testing is being offered to individuals requiring hospital admission with clinical or radiological evidence of pneumonia; acute respiratory distress syndrome or an Influenza like illness which shows temperatures of above 37.8°C and at least one respiratory symptoms, such as persistent cough, hoarseness, nasal discharge or congestion, shortness of breath, sore throat, wheezing and sneezing.

In addition any patient in hospital (whether a new admission or existing patient) with new respiratory symptoms, fever or worsening of a pre-existing respiratory condition will have access to a test.

The testing will also be available to any symptomatic resident or staff member in a care home for whom, following clinical assessment, testing is considered appropriate.

Symptomatic key health, social care or category one workers, and members of their households, can also be tested, and so too people being admitted to care homes from home, hospital or other location.

Hospital clinicians will be able to offer testing to patients being admitted to a Western Isles hospital for any reason, and GPs and community physicians – in a bid to gain a better picture and clearer understanding of the local spread of the virus – will be able to offer testing to people they see in primary care with symptoms of Covid-19 infection.

NHS Western Isles Chief Executive, Gordon Jamieson said: “Being able to test for Covid-19 here in the Western Isles marks a very welcome step forward for us.

“Local testing with a shorter timeframe for the results will allow us to manage patient demand better, and to inform patients and their families of results sooner than before.”