Community target testing can play key role in fighting Covid - Cammy Day

Hard to believe we’re now into the second year of living with Covid19 in our midst, with all the huge changes the pandemic has brought to all our lives.

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 7:00 am
Deputy Council Leader Cammy Day vísits Wester Hailes Library for a free, rapid Covid test

As we now start to unlock and rediscover many of the freedoms we’ve had to do without for so long during lockdown, it’s more important than ever that we keep on top of case levels in our communities.

By tracking and tracing where case numbers are on the rise, we can act more quickly to limit the spread and thereby help keep the whole city on track towards even greater relaxation of restrictions.

That’s why the council’s working so closely with the Scottish government to roll out responsive community testing centres in areas where case numbers are stubbornly high.

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These centres are for people without Covid symptoms and they’re being set up in libraries for short periods of time – normally a week to 10 days – to encourage local residents to come forward and find out if they might be carrying the virus without realising it, so that they can then self-isolate and help keep their loved ones and community safe.

We introduced our first community test centre in Craigmillar in April, moving on to Wester Hailes after that. We’re in Gilmerton Library this week and will be returning to Craigmillar again from 24-30 May.

The council leader and I paid a visit to the Wester Hailes Library community test centre when it opened up, where we met Sas, a member of the local community who’d come forward to be tested.

As he explained to us: “I think it’s really important to get tested as you don’t really know if you are a carrier of Covid. People are unwittingly spreading the virus as they don’t have any symptoms and they don’t know they could be spreading it.

"If more people get the test they will know for sure they are OK and people who do test positive can self-isolate, which will help stop the spread and keep their families safe - and, in turn, their local community. We all want to get back to normal as soon as possible and taking this test will help us achieve that.”

We were inspired by Sas’s example to take a test ourselves, and it couldn’t have been simpler. There’s no need to book an appointment, you can just pop in while you’re out and about.

You need to register your details when you arrive, then you’re shown to a booth where a test operative guides you through the process and helps make sure you’re doing it correctly. It’s all over in a matter of minutes and you get your result sent to you in a text within the hour. And if you do test positive, remember there’s support available to help with self-isolation – visit our website at www.edinburgh.gov.uk/selfisolationsupportgrant to find out more.

Research shows something like one in three Covid cases are in people with no symptoms at all. Let’s make sure we catch all the cases, not just those with symptoms. By doing so, we’ll all get back to something closer to normal life again much more quickly.