DUMBARTON’S MSP says people in the town are STILL being told they’ll have to travel long distances for a Covid-19 test – even though a testing facility is now available close to the town centre.

The testing unit, staffed by Scottish Ambulance Service personnel, opened its doors at the town’s Meadow Centre on Thursday after pressure from local politicians following the imposition of a ban on household gatherings across West Dunbartonshire.

But Jackie Baillie announced on Monday that some constituents were still being told that the nearest available testing centre is many miles away.

Ms Baillie said she was seeking urgent answers from the Scottish Government on the issue.

She said one constituent had been told on Thursday, the first day of the local unit being open, that the nearest test centre for her ill and symptomatic brother was in Rothesay – a one hour 40 minute drive away or a journey of almost two and a half hours on public transport – while another was told the nearest available testing unit was in Dundee.

Ms Baillie said: “It really does beggar belief that on the very first day that our long awaited and hard fought for local testing service has opened, local people are already being told to travel as far as Dundee to access a test.

“Our community has been particularly badly hit by Covid-19 and it is paramount that any local people who are displaying symptoms are tested immediately.

“For that to happen, we must have a permanent and full time testing service in Dumbarton.”

Ms Baillie said that an operator on the Covid-19 test helpline had confirmed that if test centres don’t have any afternoon bookings, they will close before the scheduled 5pm closing time.

She added: “I will be raising this issue with the Scottish Government urgently and will fight to ensure that, at the very least, the service stays open from 10am to 5pm – as per the government’s promise.”

When the Dumbarton facility’s opening was confirmed, the NHS said it would operate on alternate days, including weekends, and would be available as a drive-through facility between 10am and 5pm each day.

Anyone who develops Covid-19 symptoms - a new and persistent dry cough, a change in their sense of smell or taste, or a fever - should self-isolate for 14 days, should log onto the NHS Inform website and follow the instructions provided to book a test.

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.