South Scotland MSP Emma Harper has asked the Scottish Government to establish a walk-in COVID-19 testing centre in Stranraer as a matter of urgency.

Following a dramatic increase in cases in the town, the South Scotland MSP has lodged a written question to the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Jeanne Freeman MSP to request a walk-in centre similar to the ones established other parts of Scotland.

Ms Harper referenced areas with similar population sizes to Stranraer (POP 10, 593 people), such as Galashiels (pop 14.632 people) Wick (pop 7,333) and Oban (pop 8,500) saying a walk-in test centre would allow for a greater equity of access to COVID-19 testing for people who do not have access to cars and who rely on public transport.

Currently a mobile testing unit visits towns around the region and has been available earlier this week (Monday 11 and Tuesday 12) in Stranraer with future dates in the town to be announced on www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing/ <www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing/>. The mobile testing unit will be in Newton Stewart this Friday 15 January at the Merrick Sports Centre and appointments can be made from 0930 by visiting the website or phoning 0800 028 2816.

Ms Harper commented;

“I have lodged a written question to the Scottish Government as a matter of urgency to ascertain whether a walk in testing centre can be located in Stranraer. I think it’s imperative that with spiralling cases in Stranraer that a walk-in centre is established here as it is in other Scottish towns with similar population sizes.

“Our communities have done so well to look after each other throughout this campaign but Stranraer remains a fragile rural town with many of its folk elderly and vulnerable so any flexing of the rules by anyone, regardless of age or circumstance, means we automatically put others at risk which simply isn’t worth it.

“The vaccination programme in our region is underway and whilst it targets the elderly and most vulnerable first, this doesn’t mean we can become complacent in following rules so I’d like to encourage people to stick with it – for a bit longer and all our friends, family and loved ones will come out healthy on the other side of this pandemic.”

*As of 4 January Public Health Scotland reported 3148 per 100, 000 population in west Stranraer, 3254 per head of population in east of the town and 4456 per 100, 000 population in south Stranraer having tested positive over the seven-day period leading up to 4 January.