Community pharmacies across Scotland are extending access to rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing kits for people without COVID-19 symptoms.
The expansion, which began on Wednesday 9 June, is aimed at encouraging further uptake of testing among people with no symptoms and finding cases which would otherwise go undetected.
It builds on current efforts in place to improve access to rapid lateral flow devices (LFDs) for people without COVID-19 symptoms by making it easier for people without access to digital services.
Free packs are available to be collected from participating pharmacies, with each containing seven devices which can provide results in around 30 minutes.
People with symptoms of COVID-19 should not enter pharmacies to collect self-test kits or use an LFD and must instead self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test at NHS Inform.
Heath Secretary Humza Yousaf said: ‘Testing has a vital role to play as we move safely out of lockdown and this rollout of testing kits to pharmacies for the public to drop in and pick up helps build on our strategy to tackle COVID-19.
‘It would be a mistake to think that the successful delivery of the vaccination programme means testing becomes less important. The evidence suggests vaccination provides strong protection but does not yet guarantee you can’t still get the virus and pass it on.
‘Around one in three people with COVID-19 do not show any symptoms and rapid lateral flow testing is already helping us identify new cases. The ability to quickly identify new outbreaks and put appropriate measures in place will remain at the heart of our strategy to help break chains of transmission.
‘Regular, rapid testing is already available to people in a wide range of settings, including schools and communities where rates remain high and everyone should access testing regularly.’
People can find out which pharmacies are taking part by going to NHS inform, following a link and entering their postcode.
Anyone with symptoms, such as a cough, fever or loss of taste or smell should self-isolate immediately and book a PCR (polymarese chain reaction) test.
Rapid LFD test kits, which can be used from home for people to test themselves twice-weekly, are already available for pick-up without an appointment from many local walk-in, or drive-through test sites, or by ordering online, or by phone.
‘The community pharmacy network across Scotland provides access to NHS services close to people’s homes at the heart of our communities,’ said Professor Harry McQuillan from Community Pharmacy Scotland.
‘This distribution service further enhances the ongoing testing programme and builds upon the community pharmacy teams role in supporting Scotland’s public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic.’
There are 1,258 community pharmacies across Scotland that are eligible to sign up for the service. Participation is voluntary and it is for pharmacy owners to opt-in to provide the service.
More information on LFD testing can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland – gov.scot (www.gov.scot/communitytesting)
Support for people who need to self-isolate is available, including a £500 self-isolation support grant for low-income workers.
People who do not have family or community support can also call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 or contact via textphone on 0800 111 4114.