Coronavirus in Scotland: Mass testing population of Glasgow 'a possibility' says council leader

Coronavirus tests could be offered to everyone across Glasgow in a mass testing scheme similar to the one operating in Liverpool, the council leader has said.

Susan Aitken said the council is exploring the possibility of being a mass testing site and is keen to learn lessons from Liverpool.

On Monday, Liverpool City Council said 119,054 residents, just under a quarter of the population, had been tested as part of a pilot.

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Glasgow is one of 11 local authorities being placed in Level 4, the tightest level of restrictions, from Friday, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon describing infection rates in the city as “stubbornly and worryingly high”.

Mass testing the population of Glasgow for coronavirus is being considered, the council leader has said.
Mass testing the population of Glasgow for coronavirus is being considered, the council leader has said.

Ms Aitken said she understands why the decision to move the city to Level 4 was made but she warned the next few weeks will be “really grim” for a lot of people.

She added Glasgow City Council is exploring options for the future.

She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We in the council have been very keen to explore testing for example, being a mass testing site, that’s not necessarily a cure all, the take up in Liverpool was very low but there’s learning that we can take from that.”

She said “very early” and “positive” discussions had taken place on Glasgow being a site for mass testing.

Under Level 4 restrictions in Scotland, non-essential shops, bars, restaurants, gyms, hairdressers and visitor attractions will close, though schools will stay open.

Non-essential travel into or out of the areas will be barred – a rule which will become law from Friday.

Glasgow is among a number of local authorities in the central belt and west of Scotland which were placed under tighter rules in September with restrictions on household visits.

Ms Aitken said: “Restrictions have not worked well enough so far, that’s clear, the numbers are still too high and although they have plateaued and are coming down they are not coming down fast enough.

“The concern of the public health practitioners and the public health advice that has driven this decision is that if that continues we could be setting ourselves up for some real problems, really in the early new year following Christmas where a combination of these high numbers and winter pressures would put, they believe, intolerable pressure on the NHS and on intensive care beds.”

Ms Aitken said that according to the figures she has seen, households still appear to be the largest area of transmission and there does not seem to be evidence that schools are a particular site of the virus being contracted.

She said the restrictions are “not the outcome any of us wanted for Glasgow” and urged people to follow the rules.

Ms Aitken said: “All I can do is repeat the public health messages, repeat the messages to the city and indeed to the surrounding areas, many of whom will look to Glasgow for their Christmas shopping, which is to follow those rules.

“Be clear that this is still in the community, that people are still catching this virus and that people are still losing their lives tragically as well.”

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