Renfrewshire Council

Message from Chief Executive, Sandra Black - 27 November 2020

As part of a wider update on the expansion of testing for Coronavirus, the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport this week announced plans for a significant expansion in asymptomatic testing for health and social care staff, teachers and schools' staff and communities in Level Four areas.

It was also confirmed that from next week targeted geographic testing will be trialled in communities covered by a number of health board areas including Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including an asymptomatic test site facility here in Renfrewshire. These are the first pilots in Scotland for this type of testing, although it has previously been undertaken in Liverpool in England and Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. 

The pilot will take place at Johnstone Town Hall from Wednesday 2 to Wednesday 9 December 2020 and is an opportunity for all those living and working in Johnstone, including council staff, who do not have any symptoms of Covid-19, to take a test which will give you a result in less than an hour.

We are working closely with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and the Scottish Government to identify and fulfil the requirements for the pilot, and we will keep you updated over the coming days.

Johnstone is one of the areas that has been chosen following discussion with NHS GGC and Scottish Government, as it has recently seen a high prevalence of the virus, but also as it provides a suitable sample size for a pilot to be undertaken quickly and effectively. Quicker identification of positive cases will help lower transmission levels and give a clearer picture of the prevalence of the virus within the town. The findings will also play a key role in helping to inform public health data in the future to help contain the virus and protect our communities, and that is why we volunteered to deliver the pilot.

Staff who live and work in Johnstone will be receiving a personal invitation in the coming days to take part in the pilot and I hope as many as possible who are eligible, are able to do so.

I am pleased we will be able to contribute to this important public health work and members of staff from across the council, working closely with our partners, are working hard to deliver this project and I would like to thank everyone who is involved and contributing to the delivery of this vital project.

While testing is vital, it is only one of the tools we have at our disposal to suppress the virus. We all have a role to play and that's why it's so important that we all follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible, unless for work, shopping and essential travel. Whether you are working at home or in a council building, please follow the appropriate workplace guidance, remember the FACTS and please if you are identified as a close contact and/or you develop symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild, that you self-isolate, book a test as soon as possible and contact your line manager who will provide you with the appropriate support.

If you haven't done so already, then I would also encourage you all to get a flu vaccination this year to help protect yourself, your family, council services and the NHS. If you are not eligible for the expanded NHS national programme you can access the council programme here.

And finally, Scottish Government yesterday confirmed that while the safest way to spend Christmas and the festive period is to stay within your own household, in your own home and local area, there will be a limited relaxation of the rules to allow people to travel within the UK to spend Christmas together, in "bubbles" of up to three households containing no more than eight people, though children under the age of 12 will not count towards the total number of people in the bubble.

You can read the full guidance for the festive period on Scottish Government website, however I would urge you to be cautious and ensure you are following the guidance when making festive plans. We have all sacrificed so much over the past eight months and with the expansion of testing and recent positive news on vaccination trials, it is hoped that 2021 will bring some real progress in being able to successfully manage this virus.

Thank you and stay safe.

Sandra Black