A cutting edge coronavirus laboratory, capable of processing 4,000 tests a day from across the north, has become operational.
Care home staff have been prioritised at the new facility at Foresterhill in Aberdeen, which will also be used to deal with extra demand on resources over the winter.
It opens as north-east authorities grapple with outbreaks at three homes, which have led to almost 200 infections and 19 deaths.
Yesterday, the incident management team tasked with bringing the outbreak at Inchmarlo House care home, near Banchory, was “beginning to stabilise”.
Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch this week described Aberdeen as the “big concern”, as people in the city and Aberdeenshire begin life with Level 3 restrictions.
The Aberdeen base for Thermo Fisher Scientific testing is among the first of its kind anywhere in Europe.
It will process tests from across the north of Scotland.
Consultant microbiologist Noha El Sakka said: “The systems can analyse up to 3,000 samples in a 12-hour shift using a highly automated molecular diagnostic system.
“This lab has a critical role to play in suppressing the virus, and I’m grateful to all of those involved at every level for their continued hard work.”
Aberdeen’s lab has become the second of three to open in Scotland, after Gartnavel in Glasgow came online earlier this week.
Along with a further centre to open in Edinburgh, they are hoped to process an extra 22,000 tests across Scotland every day, once fully up and running.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said this evening: “The opening of the three regional laboratory hubs, which will provide a 24/7 testing service, and significantly increase Scotland’s testing capacity by around 22,000 per day once all three are fully operational.
“The hubs will prioritise care home staff testing in the first instance with the additional capacity they provide, as well as supporting health boards to manage winter demand.
“Scotland’s Test and Protect programme has a critical role to play in suppressing the virus, and I’m grateful to all of those involved at every level for their continued hard work.”
NHS Grampian’s Stan Mathieson added: “The establishment of this hub has been an exceptional project in terms of the rapid recruitment and training of new laboratory staff, and the complexity of equipment involved, and I want to recognise our the huge effort in delivering this within a very short timeframe.”