Scotland’s first fixed community testing site for people without Covid-19 symptoms has opened in Renfrewshire.
The drop-in facility in Johnstone will be able to check over the next eight days if up to 12,000 asymptomatic residents have the virus.
They will be tested using lateral flow devices, which can give results in about 45 minutes.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The opening of this site is an important milestone in the expansion of Scotland’s testing programme to contain and suppress Covid-19 to the lowest possible level, particularly in high prevalence areas like Renfrewshire.
“There is no need to book in advance and I encourage everyone who lives, works or attends school in Johnstone to get tested over the next week.
“As well as helping to slow spread of the virus locally, the results of the community testing pilots will also inform our plans for wider community testing from January next year.”
The Community Asymptomatic Test (CAT) site is the first of its kind in Scotland.
It forms part of a pilot announced by Ms Freeman last week to trial wider community testing in five local authority areas where transmission rates remain persistently high.
Six mobile testing units and 20,000 home kits are also being deployed to test asymptomatic people who live in Glasgow, Renfrewshire, East and South Ayrshire and Clackmannanshire.
The results of these trials will be used for wider expansion of targeted community testing planned for early January.
Dr Linda de Caestecker, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s director of public health, said: “There are several potential benefits to carrying out mass testing like this, including helping us to learn about the rate of infection in people not showing signs of the virus, and early identification of positive asymptomatic cases will also help us prevent onward transmission to their family or the community.
“As we’re asking people with no symptoms to come forward for the first time, we hope we can also raise public awareness that it is possible to have the virus and feel absolutely fine – which is why it is so important to people continue to maintain social distancing and use face coverings and hand-washing as additional measures of protection against the virus.”