STUDENTS returning home to Dumfries and Galloway should test themselves for COVID-19 – to avoid infecting family members over Christmas.
With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 spreading rapidly, there is now a real danger of students unknowingly bringing home an infection– and passing it on to their families and friends, including any elderly or vulnerable people joining them over the holidays.
Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “Testing yourself before you come home is quick, free and easy. We are all now being encouraged to take a lateral flow test before we meet up with other households to help reduce the risk of unknowingly spreading the virus. We know that students will very much be looking forward to returning home to see friends and families. Please do test before you return and continue to test regularly especially if meeting up with others over the festive period.
“Christmas can be a risky time for COVID transmission as families and friends come together, and the new Omicron variant appears to be even easier to catch than previous COVID variants. By testing before we meet up, we know that we’ve reduced that risk for everyone else in the house.”
Anyone testing positive with a lateral flow test should self-isolate immediately, along with everyone else in their household, and immediately arrange a PCR test. If the PCR test is positive as well, they should continue to self-isolate for ten days after the date of the lateral flow test.
Anyone showing symptoms of COVID – an increased temperature, a new and continuous cough, or loss of or change to their sense of smell and/or taste – should book a PCR test as soon as possible, and will also need to self-isolate for ten days from the start of the symptoms.
Ms White added: “In the run-up to Christmas, it’s important that we’re as careful and responsible as possible.
“Please do take a test if heading home, and look to continue regular testing – especially ahead of meeting up with others.
“Taking this approach will help ensure that you, your family and loved ones are able to enjoy the safest Christmas possible.”
Tests are available from pharmacies and university student health services, and from local test sites (listed on https://www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing/). They can also be ordered online through https://www.gov.uk/order-coronavirus-rapid-lateral-flow-tests.
As of this week, students over 18 are also eligible for a COVID booster vaccination 12 weeks from their second dose,– appointments are available across the country, seven days a week, at https://vacs.nhs.scot/csp or by phoning free on 0800 030 8013. 16 and 17 year olds can now book their second COVID jags the same way.
University COVID testing advice is available online:
University of the West of Scotland:
Students elsewhere should contact their local student health services or visit https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/test-and-protect/coronavirus-covid-19-testing/ for information on where to obtain a lateral flow test.