Valerie White, Interim Director of Public Health at NHS Dumfries and Galloway said:
“Our local care homes have been doing a truly phenomenal job of protecting their residents against coronavirus – and I would like to pay testimony to all their hard work and dedication during this period and also to you our local community who have been supporting them during this difficult time.
“Our Health and Social Care Partnership has been supporting care homes across the region from the very start of this coronavirus situation. We have offered testing to all symptomatic residents since the start of this pandemic, and to care home staff and their household members since the 20th March. We were one of the first health and social care partnerships in the country to do this.
“In the last three weeks, we have also undertaken testing of a sample of care home staff and residents who do not have coronavirus symptoms. This has been in care homes where there have been no confirmed cases of coronavirus. This has now been undertaken in four care homes with all results being negative.
“From these various programmes we have tested at least 225 care home staff or members from their household.
“In Dumfries and Galloway there are approximately 1,500 individuals working in 31 care homes. Over the last week the health and social care partnership has been working with care homes to support them to access the weekly offer of testing for care home staff who do not have symptoms of coronavirus.
“This asymptomatic testing is an additional preventive measure to detect potential outbreaks at an early stage. As you can imagine this is a large-scale programme to implement, not just for the health and social care partnership, but also for the care homes as this involves them undertaking testing within that environment.
“Over the coming weeks we will continue to support our local care homes to implement the offer of weekly staff testing, but it will take time to see an increase in the figures. It should be remembered that this is not a compulsory test for care home staff, some staff may not wish to have it and others might opt to have it less frequently.
“In addition to the above we will continue to undertake a programme of surveillance testing of asymptomatic residents subject to appropriate consent”.
Valerie White added: “Coronavirus has not gone away but by following the Scottish Government guidance you, our local community, are contributing to keeping the levels of the virus low and this helps to keep residents in our care homes safe. Thank you for continuing to do this.
“Care homes are very much part of our Health and Social Care Partnership and I want to assure you that we have, and we will continue to support them during this very difficult period.”