Health Secretary Humza Yousaf says at-home coronavirus tests have a “vital role to play”, as he launches a scheme to provide test kits in community pharmacies.
Mr Yousaf was at McPherson’s Pharmacy in Broughty Ferry to launch the scheme, which means people can pick up asymptomatic coronavirus test kits from their local pharmacy instead of ordering them online.
It is hoped this will encourage more people who do not have symptoms to take a test to help find cases that would otherwise go undetected.
Thinking vaccine programme makes testing less important is a “mistake”
Mr Yousaf says testing is still “at the heart” of the government’s strategy to tackle the pandemic, despite 2,313,695 people having received two doses of the vaccine.
He 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.
Free rapid COVID-19 test kits are now available in pharmacies across the country – @HumzaYousaf has visited McPherson’s Pharmacy in Broughty Ferry which is taking part in the expansion. pic.twitter.com/v6hDimkqNy
— Scot Gov Health (@scotgovhealth) June 9, 2021
“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.”
At-home tests in pharmacies enhances ongoing testing programme
People can find out which community pharmacies are taking part in this new scheme by going online to NHS Inform and entering their postcode.
No appointment is needed to pick up these tests, however those with coronavirus symptoms should not go into pharmacies to collect these kits, and should instead self-isolate immediately and book a PCR test at a coronavirus test centre through NHS Inform.
Professor Harry McQuillan from Community Pharmacy Scotland said: “The community pharmacy network across Scotland provides access to NHS services close to people’s homes at the heart of our communities.
“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.”