The need for Covid-19 testing to be extended to returning offshore workers grows this week says Isles MP Angus MacNeil given the outbreak in Aberdeen City which is a key travel point for workers returning home to the islands.
Currently workers are routinely tested on their way out to work but not before their return.
Last month Mr MacNeil asked Secretary of State Matt Hancock what the UK Government could do to close the gap of testing workers, given that 80 per cent of Covid-19 cases are asymptomatic. He received a positive response that the UK Government would be willing to work with counterparts in the Scottish Government to test the hypothesis of Covid-19 positives coming off rigs.
Mr MacNeil has written again to Scottish Minister for Health Jeanne Freeman MSP for further clarity on how the Scottish Government will take this further forward asking for specific detail on how this could be done without workers having to travel to testing centres before travelling home.
His suggestion is that test kits are used on rigs prior to workers departing.
He said: “Going to the North Sea, the best practice seems to be testing before people go on rigs but of course any tests can have people incubating and therefore testing negative for Covid-19.
“Surely the tests that are done going on the rigs should be followed up with tests going off the rig. If tests going off the rig are not needed, why are tests going on the rigs needed? Surely the commercial interest of the rigs isn’t paramount over community health and safety of the various communities the workers go back to?
“The Scottish and UK Governments really need to get a grip of this glaring hole in the Covid testing situation because of the diverse communities people come from to go together on an oil rig for a couple of weeks and then back home again. The cases in Aberdeen add to fears I have about the incompleteness of the testing approach at the moment.”
The outbreak in Aberdeen has led to 54 new positive cases and 191 contacts have been traced through test and trace systems.