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Thurso fire station begins trial for Covid-19 testing site

By John Davidson

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Thurso fire station where the trial for Covid testing gets under way today.
Thurso fire station where the trial for Covid testing gets under way today.

The fire station in Thurso is taking part in a trial to increase access to Covid testing in remote and rural areas.

The trial test site, along with one other in Lochgilphead in Argyll, with run from today until January 29 in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS).

Each site will be available Monday to Friday, for three-and-a-half hours each day, from 9am to 12.30pm.

People within driving or walking distance of these locations who have Covid-19 symptoms will be able to book a test slot by calling NHS Highland on 01463 706015, who will provide details of the booking and what to do when people arrive.

If people drive to the site they can take the test themselves onsite and leave it for collection by a courier, or people can collect a test kit for someone else and bring it back for courier collection.

In addition to hosting the testing sites, the SFRS will provide logistical support, including test ordering and storage of samples ahead of courier collection.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Although there are currently a range of options for people in remote and rural areas to get tested, these options are not always convenient or on their doorstep. With this trial our aim is to give people with Covid-19 symptoms in these areas more consistent access to testing, and to see whether this approach could be adopted across other remote and rural areas of Scotland if successful.

“Our advice remains the same – if you develop Covid-19 symptoms (new continuous cough, fever or loss of, or change in, sense of smell or taste), you should immediately self-isolate and book a test. This is especially critical against a backdrop of rising cases.

“I am grateful to the SFRS, Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council, and NHS Highland for their excellent partnership working in making this trial possible, and for their ongoing support throughout the pandemic.”

Assistant Chief Officer Stuart Stevens, the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s director of service delivery, said: "Our fire stations at Thurso and Lochgilphead are ideally placed to facilitate the distribution, collection and storage of test kits within a safe and secure location, providing a service far closer to home for those who may unfortunately be experiencing Covid-19 symptoms. Both stations will maintain the capability to respond to emergencies.

“It is imperative that everyone in Scotland has access to consistent testing and particularly within our more rural and remote communities. We will continue to support the Scottish Government, our partners and communities wherever possible through this challenging time.”

The address for Thurso Community Fire Station is Millbank Road, Thurso, Highland, KW14 8PS.

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