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Army to start testing

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By Fiona Reid
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Army to start testing

A MILITARY team is being called in to carry out mobile coronavirus testing in Dumfriesshire, with a particular focus on rural areas.

The region’s MP, David Mundell, revealed that the increased mobile testing for Covid-19 will begin today, with the NHS’s public health staff supported by the military.

And one of the first locations on the list is Eskdalemuir.

Welcoming the additional capacity, Mr Mundell said: “I’ve been assured that both NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s public health team and the military personnel are available to go where it is judged they can make the most difference. It is not just the more populated areas. One remote location, for example, where community testing is planned will be Eskdalemuir.”

Mr Mundell is pleased the UK-wide initiative would facilitate testing in communities in the Dumfries and Galloway area where there were suspected coronavirus ‘hotspots’, reaching local people who would otherwise not be eligible through existing programmes.

He added: “It is clear that testing is going to be a key part of the next phase of trying to manage this dreadful disease. We need to ensure that people in our area have the same access to testing as elsewhere, as well as ensuring our elderly and vulnerable in care homes and the community are protected.”

Meanwhile, NHS Dumfries and Galloway have confirmed the move and a spokesman said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway has had some mobile testing capacity, provided by the public health department, for a number of weeks, although this has been limited. It has allowed us to test a small number of symptomatic residents at home, but more importantly visit all care homes where there have been potential Covid-19 cases, and carry out testing of symptomatic residents.

“Additional resource for mobile testing has now been made available for Dumfries and Galloway, linked to the UK-wide testing programme. Although this was meant to support testing of key workers, NHS Dumfries and Galloway has had a well-established system for testing key workers in place for some time. We will continue to use our local processes to provide this service to residents and staff in Dumfries and Galloway. However, we believe that this additional resource will allow us to visit communities where we are concerned about possible ‘hot-spots’ of Covid-19 infection and offer testing to members of the community who would not otherwise be eligible for other testing programmes.

“There is considerable extra complexity about offering this wider testing, but we plan on using the mobile testing team in this way from later this week.”

Picture by Sergeant Donald Todd (RLC) / ©MoD Crown Copyright 2020

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