Glasgow is set to begin the phased roll-out of Covid-19 asymptomatic testing aimed at identifying positive cases in communities and breaking chains of transmission.
Funded by the Scottish Government, the programme will offer testing to people without Covid-19 symptoms, who may be infectious and spreading the virus without knowing it.
Pop-up test sites using Lateral Flow Tests will begin rolling out in communities on March 1 when the first centres will open in the Gorbals and Govanhill.
The new walk-in test centres will be located at the Central Mosque, 1 Mosque Avenue, Glasgow, and at Govanhill Neighbourhood Centre, 6 Daisy Street, Glasgow. They will each be in place for several weeks and will be staffed by the Armed Forces with support from volunteers at the Mosque (Opening times TBC).
People living in surrounding communities who do not have Covid-19 symptoms are encouraged to come forward for tests from March 1. Appointments are not necessary and by volunteering to get tested, people will be helping to fight the pandemic.
Lateral Flow Tests are quick and easy. The swabs do not need to be sent to labs for analysis and the results should be known within an hour.
This new community testing programme is part of ongoing, wider, asymptomatic national testing, which includes health and social care workers and students. Similar test facilities will be set up in other Glasgow neighbourhoods in coming weeks.
Waste-water tests and the most up-to-date data will be used to identify communities where asymptomatic testing is needed. Additional mobile testing will also be under-taken as a rapid response to any outbreaks.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, Public Health Director for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: “We know that COVID-19 is often spread by people who don’t have symptoms or they are so mild they do not recognise they have the infection.
“Asymptomatic testing enables identification of infection so that people are not spreading the infection to their families, work colleagues or the wider community as they go shopping or exercising. This has the potential to reduce spread overall. That means we will be more likely to be able to reduce restrictions more quickly. Asymptomatic testing will also help us learn about the rate of infection in people not showing signs of the virus. Please come forward for testing to help to reduce transmission of the virus in this area. The centres will also give advice about support for isolation for people with a positive test.
“As we’re asking people with no symptoms to come forward, we are highlighting the fact that it is possible to have the virus and feel absolutely fine or have vague and mild symptoms– which is why it is so important that people continue to maintain physical distancing, and use face coverings and hand-washing as additional measures of protection against the virus.”
Councillor Susan Aitken, Leader of Glasgow City Council, said: “I would encourage people not displaying Covid-19 symptoms to volunteer for a test where asymptomatic testing centres have been set up in their local area. The test results will help to detect the virus and limit its spread in our communities.
“Glasgow City Council and the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership continue to support the ongoing NHS vaccination and testing programmes in whatever way we can. Glaswegians have shown their commitment to tackling the virus by following public health guidance. By volunteering for asymptomatic testing we can build on the very real progress in reducing the spread of this awful virus.”
Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “Targeted testing in this way will help us find and isolate more cases, by targeting resources with communities where there is high prevalence, helping us to identify more cases of the virus and giving us all a better chance of stopping it from spreading.
“However, a test only tells us if we are positive at the point in time that we are being tested. It does not mean that we can stop following all of the rules and guidelines which are in place to protect all of us. Testing is only one layer of protection against this virus – all others, including vaccination and the FACTS guidance work to greatest effect when they work together, so it is essential people continue to follow the restrictions currently in place to suppress COVID to the lowest possible level in Scotland.
“This expansion has been made possible as our testing capacity has increased but it could not have happened without the support of our local partners, and everyone involved in Scotland’s testing programme, from diagnostic staff to sample takers, and I want to pay tribute to each and every one of you as we continue to work to suppress this virus together.”
The roll-out of asymptomatic testing in Glasgow follows two earlier pilot projects in Dalmarnock and West Pollokshields last year as well as others elsewhere in Scotland.
Free testing continues to be available to anyone with Covid symptoms. Anyone with a fever, new continuous cough or loss of/change in taste or smell should isolate straight away and book a test at NHSinform.scot/test-and-protect or by calling 0800 028 2816.