By Lucy Ashton

Scottish Labour have demanded that Scots have the same access to rapid testing as people in England.

It comes after it was announced everyone in England will have access to a free and rapid coronavirus test twice a week from Friday.

The lateral flow tests – which can provide results in around 30 minutes – will be available to anyone, regardless of whether they are showing Covid-19 symptoms.

Barber shops in West Dunbartonshire and Argyll are open but people will still be at risk if we do not have the tools to break transmission chains and suppress infections.

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader and health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said:  “Today many Scots will head to get a haircut or go to a garden centre – and they will know that these newly returned freedoms are the result of the dedication of our NHS, care staff and vaccinators.

“But they will be at risk if we do not have the tools to break transmission chains and suppress infections.

“The WHO said the key to tackling Covid was test, test, test. In response the SNP has been slow, slow, slow.

“Scotland needs the same access to twice weekly mass testing as we will now see in England – and the Scottish Government is responsible for the failure to deliver it.

“This is just another area where Nicola Sturgeon’s government has fallen short.

“It is testing alongside our vaccine rollout that will stop our route out of the pandemic slipping backwards.  – Scotland deserves better than this haphazard approach to lockdown exit.”

Last week, Scottish Labour raised concerns about regional variation in the vaccine roll-out, after figures revealed huge disparities in the vaccination rates between council areas.

These figures show that the proportion of 50-59 year olds who have received their first vaccine in Stirling Council area is more than double that of East Renfrewshire.

The figures also revealed challenges in Scotland’s biggest cities, with the proportion of 50-54 year olds vaccinated in Edinburgh and Glasgow well below the national average.

Across Scotland 63.0% of 50-54 year olds have been vaccinated, while the figure in Edinburgh is just 40.6%, and in Glasgow is 47.1%.

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