Call to make Covid home test kits available locally

The mobile testing unit in Oban on Wednesday, August 26, 2020

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Confusion reigns over whether home testing kits for the coronavirus are available locally.

Last week some people locally reported not being able to get kits, while there are reports from others who have managed to obtain them.

Responding to concerns raised in The Oban Times, the Scottish Government confirmed home testing kits are not available in ‘some remote areas’.

Now community campaigners involved in the coronavirus battle have called for a better system ahead of winter.

A government spokesperson said: ‘Home test kits are available through the UK Expanded Testing Programme and can be booked via the UK online digital portal.

‘These are an option where people seeking a test are unable to attend a fixed drive-through centre or mobile testing unit.

‘In some remote areas, however, home testing kits are not available, because of difficulties with the delivery of self-testing kits in a timely manner.’

Clare Hunt, a co-ordinator with Appin Community Development Trust, said she had heard that supplies locally had simply run out due to demand.

She said: ‘I appreciate everyone is trying to do their best and things like this move so quickly, but there has been six months now to deal with this and I think it could have been foreseen a little bit better.

‘We knew we were going to come out of lockdown so I don’t see why it has become an issue now? Amazon can deliver to my house within 24 hours so I don’t understand why there is a wait for a test kit.’

One of the other issues for home kits is the turnaround time, she said. Once kits have been ordered, dispatched, delivered and then returned by the person and results processed, the turnaround time was virtually the same as self isolation.

Ms Hunt said supplies should be made available more locally with a requirement to still order them online.

She said: ‘I would like to see them placed in GP surgeries, although I wouldn’t expect the GPs surgeries to have contact with people with suspected Covid.

‘In Appin, we have a large volunteer circle who would be more than willing to collect the test kits, take them out to somebody then pick it back up and post it for them.

‘Most rural areas have such good community networks and there would be people in the community prepared to do it. If we had a port of call locally where people can access them or send a friend or a family member that’s not having to isolate to collect it for them.’

Uncertainty around home test kits has seen some families visit mobile testing units.

Yet official guidance suggests people get tested in the first three days of symptoms appearing – which sometimes puts people outside the time window for the MTU when it visits Oban.

However, instead of visiting on two consecutive days, the MTU’s arrival at the Longsdale Car Park next to Atlantis Leisure is now being staggered, said health officials.

NHS Inform said testing is ‘effective until day five’.

The Scottish Government said in response: ‘We have been engaging with the UK Government on a daily basis to monitor the situation closely due to the recent high levels of demand on test centres in Scotland and are deploying an increased number of mobile testing units to help meet demand.’

In addition, antibody tests – which can show if you have had the virus – are also not yet  ‘widely available,’ including in Argyll and Bute.

Mobile testing units have now been taken over by the Scottish Ambulance Service.

To book a test online go to https://bit.ly/31r9M57

People who can’t book online should telephone 0800 028 2816.

NHS 24 111 should only be used by people who are unwell and not to book a test.

You may have to wait at home and self-isolate for a few days before you can access a test

For more information visit https://bit.ly/32qg2JR