South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has urged members of the public to heed NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect guidance, as lockdown measures are eased.

Since Friday, our NHS has ramped up the Test and Protect programme which is aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19.

Colin Smyth has urged members of the public in the south of Scotland to continue to follow Scottish Government guidance about staying at home as much as possible, social distancing and maintaining good hygiene.

Colin Smyth said: “As we move into the first week after lockdown measures were slightly eased, I am urging members of the public first and foremost to follow Scottish Government guidance around social distancing, maintaining good hygiene and still staying at home as much as possible.

“People need to act responsibly, use common sense and remember that this pandemic has killed many people in our region and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do.

“The NHS has now brought the Test and Protect system into operation, this public health measure is designed to break the chain of transmission of Covid-19, so it is vitally important that people follow the rules.

“If you develop symptoms of Covid-19 (a new, continuous cough; high temperature; loss of or change in, sense of smell or taste), in the first instance you must self-isolate at home and contact the NHS to arrange to be tested.

“You can make an appointment online but importantly, if you do not have access to the internet, you can call 0800 028 2816 for help and assistance. The NHS will then talk you through the next steps, where the test will take place and what you should do.

“I would also urge everyone to consider talking to friends and relatives, from a safe social distance, to ensure those who do not use mobile phones or computers know the new guidelines and have the number to call.

“We are not out of the woods yet where this terrible virus is concerned but by being vigilant we can hopefully stop it spreading any further.

“While the introduction of Test and Protect is a step forward, it is clear that the central role of testing in our strategy for defeating the virus should never have been abandoned.

“Although the Government has widened the criteria for those eligible for testing, we know that take up is still far too low and more needs to be done to increase this. For example, across our region care home staff are entitled to be tested on a weekly basis but they have to apply for that test and often travel a distance. We should have system in place were staff are tested at their care home every week as routine.”

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