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Highlands to be among first areas to get mobile Covid-19 testing units

By Scott Maclennan

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Health secretary Jeane Freeman.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has confirmed that the Highlands will be among the first areas to get mobile coronavirus testing capacity supported by the army.

The announcement came over the weekend with further details from Ms Freeman earlier today in an interview with the BBC.

The mobile testing units will deploy to the most accessible areas and will concentrate on key workers to ensure continuity of services for the public.

Though the exact location of the first deployments have not yet been revealed, they will be used to serve the NHS Highland patch which covers by far the largest area in Scotland.

This comes after a new key worker-only testing centre was established at the Inverness campus, supplementing the two testing centres already in place in and around Raigmore Hospital.

Mobile facilities can be set up in under 20 minutes and can test hundreds of people each day. It will travel to those most in need.

Specially trained Armed Forces personnel will collect swabs at the mobile sites before they are sent to labs for processing, with the results coming back within 48 hours.

The rapid expansion of a network of mobile test units is now under way, with new units being fielded in the coming weeks and at least 96 ready to be deployed by the start of May UK-wide.

New mobile sites will travel to frontline workers in places including:

  • Care homes
  • Police stations
  • Prisons
  • Benefits centres
  • Fire and rescue services

Ms Freeman said: “They are mobile so they will go to wherever, initially in the south of the country and in the Highlands but we need more than that of course, you know as well as I do, but the Highlands of Scotland covers a significant geographical area.

“So this is the beginning of that mobilization and they will be there to allow key worker testing in particular but to supplement any other test that is needed to feed into NHS labs.

“The logistics of it are being worked through very carefully to ensure that. As you know Scotland has quite a big land mass but in those areas the population is dispersed so we need to hit on the best locations for them to pause so that people can access it more easily.”

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