The Health Minister has launched a new ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service which enables people to collect rapid Covid-19 tests from selected community pharmacies.
The introduction of the Pharmacy Collect service will significantly increase the range of locations that people who require rapid tests can access them.
Welcoming the service, Robin Swann said that testing is ‘one of the main pillars of protection against the virus’, alongside vaccination and contact tracing.
“One in three people who have Covid-19 have no symptoms, or are pre-symptomatic,” the Health Minister explained. “The introduction of the ‘Pharmacy Collect’ service will significantly increase the range of locations that people who require rapid tests can access them.
“The service supplements the existing workforce testing schemes and other community collect sites, which can all be found using website: ‘maps.test-and-trace.nhs.uk’.
“By engaging in rapid Covid-19 testing, we can help keep each other safe and play our part in helping society return to normality.”
To date, 420 pharmacies in the North have signed up for the scheme.
Rapid Covid-19 tests – known as ‘Lateral Flow Device’ (LFD) tests – have an important role in detecting asymptomatic cases.
An ‘asymptomatic case’ refers to someone who is infected, but are showing no symptoms and may be unwittingly passing the virus on to others.
Testing twice a week and on a regular basis with LFDs increases their detection rate.
LFD tests are effective at picking up those who are most infectious.
Rapid tests are available for anyone who requires them. All results should be reported.
Where someone receives a positive test, they should immediately self-isolate and book a confirmatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test. This is a test specifically designed to detect the presence of the genetic material/antigens of the Covid-19 virus.
Cathy Harrison, chief pharmaceutical officer, described the Pharmacy Collect service as ‘another step forward to people getting their normal lives back’.
“The contribution of community pharmacy teams to the Covid-19 pandemic response has been invaluable and the introduction of the new Pharmacy Collect service will improve access to testing for the general public,” she said. “This is another step forward to people getting their normal lives back. Many people with COVID-19 have mild or no symptoms, but they can continue to spread the virus. Rapid tests, in conjunction with the wearing of masks, regular hand washing and social distancing, can help to prevent onward transmission of the virus.”