Coronavirus: Drive through testing begins at Edinburgh hospital

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drive through testing of coronavirus
Image caption,
A demonstration of how drive through testing is carried out in London

A "drive through" testing centre for coronavirus has opened in Edinburgh amid warnings a positive case in Scotland is "inevitable".

Patients with appointments are being tested for the virus in their cars at the Western General Hospital in the city.

Scotland remains the only part of the UK without a positive Covid-19 case.

But chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood has warned it is "just a matter of time" until this changes.

A patient diagnosed with coronavirus in England has become the first person to catch it in the UK, rather than while travelling abroad.

The news comes after a British man became the first UK citizen to die from the virus after catching it on the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan.

Latest figures show a total of 500 tests for coronavirus have now been carried out in Scotland but there are still no confirmed cases.

However, Dr Calderwood told BBC Scotland it is very likely this will change.

Image source, Scottish government
Image caption,
Dr Calderwood said the NHS is "looking at many different ways to test people" in order to contain Covid-19

She said: "We have been saying for some time now that a positive case is inevitable in Scotland so it is just a matter of time until we confirm a case here.

"The labs in Glasgow and Edinburgh have good capacity for testing at the moment but we have also expanded our different methods for community testing in all of our health boards."

Dr Calderwood said the NHS was looking at "innovative ways" of testing people, such as the drive through centre, which will reduce the chances of the virus spreading.

The chief medical officer also revealed that health protection officials have been in touch with counterparts in Spain after a group of Scottish tourists were among those trapped in in a Tenerife hotel because of coronavirus.

She said officials will be "giving advice" to individuals returning from Tenerife.

What do I need to know about coronavirus?

Media caption,

Coronavirus in the UK: 5 things you need to know about Covid-19

The main signs of infection are fever (high temperature) and a cough as well as shortness of breath and breathing difficulties.

Frequent handwashing with soap or gel, avoiding close contact with people who are ill and not touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands can help cut the risk of infection.

Catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, binning it and washing your hands can minimise the risk of spreading disease.

The "drive-through" testing centre for Covid-19 was introduced in Edinburgh as NHS Lothian steps up preparations for a possible spread of the virus.

The move follows the introduction of a similar testing service provided by Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust in Parsons Green, as part of efforts to help residents test "safely and quickly" and close to their home.

Patients who are given an appointment with NHS Lothian will be asked to drive directly to the testing area, without speaking to anyone else on the route.

They will be met by specially trained healthcare professionals in protective clothing, who will ask them to wind down the window of their car.

A throat swab will be taken and the patient will be given information on self-isolation and asked to return and remain at home.

Results will usually be returned within 24 hours.

NHS Lothian medical director Dr Tracey Gillies said: "This service is for patients who have been assessed by the specialist team so it is an appointment-only service.

"It is not a drop-in clinic and it is important to stress that patients cannot be seen without an appointment.

"The drive-through facility and the community testing teams allow us to test patients without them coming into healthcare facilities."