An urgent need for Covid testing centre

The Scottish Government has been told it needs to establish a walk-in Covid-19 testing centre in Stranraer as a matter of urgency.

Friday, 15th January 2021, 11:07 am
Updated Friday, 15th January 2021, 11:08 am
Emma Harper believes if towns of a similar size such as Galashiels, Oban and Wick can have walk-in testing then Stanraer should too

In the week ending January 10 there were 561 new, additional positive cases in Dumfries and Galloway, which although down by 14.9 per cent from the previous week the situation remains serious.

The worst affected areas in Galloway are Machars North, Machars South and Rhins North, which all have a seven day rate per 100,00 population of 400+, the top bracket calculated by Public Health Scotland.

While a new walk-in centre will open in Dumfries on Tuesday, South Scotland list MSP Emma Harper has lodged a written question to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeanne Freeman MSP, requesting one for Stranraer.

Ms Harper referenced areas with similar population sizes to Stranraer, such as Galashiels, Wick and Oban, saying a walk-in test centre would allow for a greater equity of access to testing.

A mobile testing unit visits towns around the area, it was in Stranraer on Monday and Tuesday of this week, Newton Stewart today (Friday) and Castle Douglas on Sunday.

Future dates are announced at www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing, but Ms Harper believes that a more permanent testing facility is now required.

She said: “I have lodged a written question to the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency to ascertain whether a walk-in testing centre can be located in Stranraer.

“I think it’s imperative that with spiralling cases in Stranraer that a walk-in centre is established here as it is in other Scottish towns with similar population sizes.

“Our communities have done so well to look after each other throughout this campaign, but Stranraer remains a fragile rural town with many of its folk elderly and vulnerable so any flexing of the rules by anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, means we automatically put others at risk which simply isn’t worth it.

“The vaccination programme in our region is underway and whilst it targets the elderly and most vulnerable first, this doesn’t mean we can become complacent in following rules so I’d like to encourage people to stick with it – for a bit longer and all our friends, family and loved ones will come out healthy on the other side of this pandemic.”