New walk-in centre to be opened this week but most university towns to do without until October

Jeane Freeman confirmed a new centre would open in Glasgow later this week.

By Conor Matchett
Monday, 14th September 2020, 4:45 pm
Universities are seen as a potential risk for high levels of Covid-19 transmission

A new walk-in test centre will be opened in Glasgow later this week, the Scottish Government’s health secretary announced.

The new centre will be the first of two to open in Glasgow, and the second of a raft of new walk-in centres across Scotland to open after the first in St Andrews opened earlier this month.

The centres are being opened in places with large student populations and places where accessing testing locally is more difficult such as in the Highlands.

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However, the announcement from Jeane Freeman that no other walk-in test centres will open until the end of September means large university cities and towns such as Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Stirling and Dundee will see the academic year begin before the test centres are open.

Ms Freeman said: “By the end of September we will have a total of six walk-in centres initially located around those large university towns and cities and then we will move to bring in more walk-in centres through the month of October.

"At the moment the next one to open will be the one in Glasgow next week.”

Scottish Greens’ co-leader Patrick Harvie said it was critical for testing in university towns to be available to students and said it would be “unacceptable” were the testing system to break down as it did when schools reopened due to increased demand.

He said: “When children returned to school last month the testing system broke down, resulting in families being sent across the country on a wild goose chase in search of tests. It would be unacceptable if a similar situation occurred again as university terms begin.

"It’s vital that walk-through testing centres are open and operational in all our university towns to help keep students and staff safe.

“For many students arriving on campus this will be their first time living alone, and international students arriving in Scotland for the first time will not be familiar with our public health guidance.

"It’s essential that the Scottish Government works closely with universities to ensure that students have all the support they need to keep themselves and their new communities safe at this most unusual and challenging time.”

Nicola Sturgeon said there was “very good dialogue” between the Scottish Government and the universities sector and said guidance was in place for reducing the likelihood of transmission of Covid-19.

She said: "With the [higher education] sector we will be monitoring this carefully, a bit like schools we know it is really important to have young people back in education for their education but also for their wellbeing but things can’t be exactly as normal right now.

"I know the university sector is taking this very seriously and we will continue to remain in close dialogue with them.”

Universities are expected to have put in place significant measures around social distancing and blended learning, with most of the courses being taught at many universities online rather than in person to reduce the chance of virus transmission.

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