LISTEN: Mark Ruskell gives his view on the availability of COVID tests in Perth and its surrounding area
Addressing the COVID-19 committee, who were taking evidence from the cabinet secretary for the constitution, Europe and external affairs, Micheal Russell, Mark Ruskell took to the issue of testing availability for Highland Perthshire from Perth’s city centre.
Mr Ruskell said to the committee ‘the issue for people in Perth is that there isn’t even symptomatic testing’ and those who have symptoms ‘and you want to get a test, you’ve got to Dundee.’
He said ‘this isn’t good enough’, adding: “We know that we can only track and control the spread of COVID-19 through a robust test and trace strategy, and Scotland currently depends on a privatised UK-wide testing system that has struggled with demand.
“A simple change would be to prioritise home tests for people who have no private transport, ensuring that no-one is forced to take public transport to a neighbouring city simply to get a test.
“The case for more testing, including for those who are not showing symptoms, is clear. We cannot get a clear picture of what is happening in Perth unless residents have access to tests.”
Responding to Mr Ruskell’s concerns, the cabinet secretary, Micheal Russell, said: “I think we should be pleased, though not complacent about the progress that’s been made with testing, and the way in which it might move on.”
Looking for further detail, Mr Russell asked if national clinical director of the Scottish Government, Jason Leitch, would provide further comment.
Mr Leitch added: “I’m very happy to look at Perth in particular if we think there’s a change in that particular locality.
“I’m not aware of a particular demand there that is not met, but if there is, I will be very, very, happy to look into that and get back to you.”
Commenting to Heartland Multimedia, Mr Ruskell said: “What he has agreed to do is to look again at the testing capacity.”
He added: “So I’m hopeful that, on the back of that, they’ll be some progress.”