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Another two Covid-19 test centres open in Sutherland today

By Gavin Musgrove

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Dedicated Covid-19 test centres are opening in two Sutherland locations sooner that expected.

Test facilities at Dornoch and Tongue fire stations had been scheduled to open in mid-March but will now be available from today, the Scottish Government has announced.

Three Sutherland fire stations are serving as Covid-19 test centres.
Three Sutherland fire stations are serving as Covid-19 test centres.

The Dornoch station is a small-scale test facility where tests will be carried out in addition to test kits being available for pick-up.

But the Tongue Station will operate as a pick-up only test site - tests will not be undertaken. Instructions will be supplied with the test kits, which can then be returned the same day using a nearby priority post box.

It follows the opening of a pick-up only Covid-19 test centre in Lairg on February 16 – the first testing facility to be made available locally on a permanent basis.

The service is being run in partnership with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and is available for people who have Covid symptoms and are within walking or driving distance of the fire stations.

Public Health Minister Mairi Gougeon said: “This expansion of our fire station testing programme will make it far easier for people in these areas to get tested.

"I am very grateful to the SFRS, Argyll and Bute Council, Highland Council, and NHS Highland for their support to make this possible, following the success of our initial trial.

“The Scottish Government is committed to ensuring people with Covid symptoms can easily access a test no matter where they are in the country, and we will continue to work with the UK Government and local partners to improve access to Covid testing in remote and rural areas.”

Previously, mobile testing units had made visits to the town or people with Covid symptoms had to travel to Inverness.

The other fire stations in the North that will double as test centres from tomorrow areAcharacle (pick-up only),Tarbert (Loch Fyne), Cove (Loch Long), Arrochar (pick-up only) and Grantown.

Tests can be booked from today by calling NHS Highland on 01463 706015.

Earlier this month Ms Gougeon announced that access to coronavirus testing would be expanded to 21 fire stations in remote and rural areas of Scotland following the success of trials in Thurso and Lochgilphead.

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