Highland health officials have warned of a spike of Covid cases in the Grantown area, with a new asymptomatic testing drive being organised to combat the problem.
A temporary mobile testing unit is being opened for business at Burnfield Avenue car park on Wednesday in an attempt to prevent further spread of the virus.
The move comes amid concerns from NHS Highland over a cluster of Covid-19 cases were identified in the area were linked to a variant “under investigation”.
That means it is not one of the main strains currently circulating in the UK.
Contact tracing has been carried out with all positive cases and their close contacts advised to isolate immediately.
Health chiefs say no further cases have been identified to date, and the confirmed cases are small in number.
But “enhanced contact tracing and additional PCR testing” is now being carried out due to the nature of the variant.
Asymptomatic testing available in #GrantownAsymptomatic testing (testing for those without symptoms) has been made…
Lateral flow tests are now being offered to asymptomatic residents, who are currently presenting no symptoms connected to Covid-19, to prevent it spreading to the wider community.
Dr Jenny Wares, consultant in public health medicine with NHS Highland, said: “We have been really encouraged by the engagement from our communities with the measures that have been in place over the past few months.
“We know that hearing about a variant under investigation can be worrying but the way to limit the spread of any variant remains the same.
“It is really important that we all continue to follow FACTS – wear a face covering, avoid crowded places, clean your hands regularly, maintain two metres distance and self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms. We would also ask that everyone continues to support those affected by COVID-19 in our communities with compassion.
“Lockdown is slowly being eased and it has been a very challenging year for all but we would ask that everyone continues to adhere to the guidelines. By doing this we can fight this virus.”
Local councillor John Bruce said: “I’m very glad the testing is being carried out. It seems quite a straightforward thing to do so I hope everyone that needs it gets it and does it.”
Previous asymptomatic testing drives
The testing scheme is the third of its kind to be rolled out in the north in recent weeks.
At the beginning of April, drop-in testing was run at Merkinch Community Centre following a cluster of cases at the local primary school.
Four classes at the Carse Road school were instructed to self-isolate, just days before the start of the Easter holidays, after a staff member tested positive.
Health officials also identified wider family clusters in the local area.
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Several weeks later, further asymptomatic testing was launched in the Inverness area to help clamp down on the spread of the virus.
A mobile testing unit was opened on the grounds of the Highland Council headquarters, as part of an eight-day scheme, launched in partnership with NHS Highland and the Highland Council.
How you can obtain a test
Tests are being allocated by appointment only.
Patients can contact NHS Inform online or by calling 0800 028 2816 to book a test.
When booking you should select the option ‘I have been asked to book a test by my local council or health protection team’ which will allow you to book a test even if you don’t have symptoms.
Testing can also be booked at the Grantown-on-Spey fire station by calling 01463 706015.