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Four rural Highland stations sign up to become latest Covid testing sites

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Four Highland fire stations are to begin supplying Covid tests as part of a pilot scheme to improve access in rural communities.

Scottish government ministers trialled the innovative scheme at Thurso in Caithness and Lochgilphead in Argyll to improve consistency in testing across rural hamlets.

One month on, firefighters in Kingussie, Gairloch, Lairg and Fort Augustus will begin handing out testing kits from today to individuals experiencing symptoms of the virus.

The announcement comes just days after Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon confirmed testing would be expanded to 21 fire stations in remote and rural areas of Scotland following the success of their trial.

Assistant chief officer Stuart Stevens, director of service delivery for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service thanked crews for doing their bit in tackling the virus.

He said: “We are pleased that the success of the initial trial in Thurso and Lochgilphead now means that many more fire stations can assist rural communities to access Covid-19 tests closer to home.

“Our staff have shown a real commitment to providing this service, whilst maintaining a capability to respond to emergencies, and I want to personally thank them for their ongoing efforts.”

In the Argyll and Bute district, home testing is also being made available for staff and senior pupils required to return to school when restrictions are relaxed.

The home testing kits will be free. Using them will be voluntary.

Schools will be contacting relevant staff and parents of senior phase pupils directly, over the course of this week, with information about the self-test kits and getting involved with the programme.

Policy lead for education, councillor Yvonne McNeilly said: “This is all about making our schools safe places to work, teach and learn. The sooner we stop the virus in its tracks, the more we stop it spreading, it’s as simple as that.

“Once they hear from their school, I would encourage staff, senior pupils and their families to find out how home testing could help you.”

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