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Drive-through coronavirus testing launched to limit patient contact


By Eleanor Philpotts and Awil Mohamoud
10 March 2020

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GP practices can refer patients to participate in drive-through coronavirus testing, as part of new schemes established in Wales and Scotland.

Betsi Cadwaladr University Health and NHS Lanarkshire Boards introduced the clinics to keep staff and patients safe by restricting direct contact when testing for possible cases of Covid-19.

However, in Wrexham, Wales, concerned locals have condemned the chosen location of the drive-through service given its close proximity to a primary school, according to ITV News.

In a letter to the community, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board said the site would not place residents in the area at any increased risk’. It stressed that patients would not be exiting their cars and that ‘the risk of virus spread will be managed’.

Some locals were not reassured, with one social media user arguing the board could not be certain of the risk level given that ‘this is a totally unprecedented situation’. Others have suggested the site be moved to a more remote location.

Four new confirmed cases of coronavirus since last weekend have taken the total in Wales to six.

Minimising contact with others

In Lanarkshire, Scotland, where there are currently three confirmed cases of coronavirus, GPs can issue appointments for patients, who will then drive through in their cars to be tested. NHS 24, Scotland’s telehealth organisation, can also refer patients.

Gabe Docherty, NHS Lanarkshire’s director of public health, said: ‘The introduction of community testing is all about following the advice in relation to staying at home, minimising contact with others and limiting the potential spread of the virus.

‘By doing this, we can better manage any possible cases – of course, not everyone tested will have the virus – while minimising the risk of infection, so it benefits everyone all round.

‘I appreciate it may be daunting for neighbours and family members to see our staff in their neighbourhood in protective clothing, but there really is no need to be concerned. This is simply a precautionary measure that is in line with standard infection control procedures.’

Elsewhere in Lanarkshire, nurses and clinical support workers are home-testing those who have been identified as being at risk of the globally spreading virus.

They will visit patients’ homes to collect samples, thus making it easier for the individuals to follow health advice, which includes not walking into GP practices, hospitals or other healthcare settings and risking infecting others.

At present, Scotland has reported 23 cases of Covid-19. Its chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has confirmed that the country remains in the containment phase initiated by the Government.

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