South of Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has called on the Scottish Government to step up Covid-19 testing as a matter of urgency.

The local MSP has also praised NHS Dumfries and Galloway after it was revealed the health board was one of the first in Scotland to begin testing not only its own frontline staff and their family members/household who were showing Covid-19 symptoms, but also staff in their local partner organisations in social care and the police.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Chief Officer Julie White appeared before councillors at Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Ad Hoc Covid-19 sub-committee on Friday (April 3) and told elected members that the health board was carrying out 50 to 60 tests a day.

Colin Smyth said: “NHS Dumfries and Galloway is really stepping up to the mark during this terrible health crisis.

“There are so many heroes emerging amid a terrible situation, particularly among our fantastic health professionals and those who work in the social care sector. They really deserve our gratitude.

“By testing frontline NHS staff and anyone in their households who are showing symptoms, the health board is able to identify who has the virus, which means those who get the all clear can go back to work. It is also fantastic that NHS Dumfries and Galloway has been able to extend testing to their partners in social care and the police.

“However, this puts into stark relief the situation we see nationally and I am calling on the Scottish Government to increase testing and to follow in the footsteps of Dumfries and Galloway. All the international evidence shows that maximising testing saves lives. Across Scotland we should have been testing not just those with symptoms who needed medical care but frontline NHS and care staff right from the very start.

“I am also urging everyone to do what they can to help our NHS and their partners, starting by heeding the government’s advice and staying at home. The weather might be improving but we need to ensure we don’t relax the rules in any circumstances.”

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