FIFERS have been urged to book a PCR test if they have COVID-19 symptoms instead of relying on a lateral flow test.

NHS Fife's Medical Director, Dr Chris McKenna, warned that lateral flow tests were being used wrongly and said they were not to be used for people to see if their "sniffle" was coronavirus.

Speaking at a recent board meeting, he said: "People have not necessarily been using the tests appropriately and having access to lateral flow tests comes with responsibility of using them as directed and not to check if you have Covid. There are for asymptomatic people.

“I can’t tell you the number of stories I have had about the number of later flow tests that have been taken. We have to be clear, this is not a ‘check if your sniffles are Covid’ test, it’s about checking yourself to protect yourself and others.

“If you’ve got symptoms, you get a PCR test. You should not be using lateral flow tests if you have symptoms.”

Board chairperson Tricia Marwick reiterated Dr McKenna's message.

"If you have got symptoms, you go and book a PCR test," she said. "If you have no symptoms, you do a lateral flow and that is to protect yourself and others so if going out for a meal with friends, if going to a friend's house checking before and afterwards.

"That is more about protecting yourself and others. But the clear message is if you have symptoms, you need to go and get a PCR test because of you need to identify that as quickly as possible."

Dr McKenna also urged those who have not yet been vaccinated to get the jag, warning that being unvaccinated right now was the "greatest risk" to your health.

"If you were to become positive, we have treatments available for people who come into hospital with Covid but if you are vaccinated and you develop Covid, your disease is much milder and the chances of requiring intensive care or dying are much, much lower, so prevention is better than cure.

"Prevention before cure is what I am saying. It is better to take action now and get vaccinated rather than regret it later.

"If you have concerns about safety of the vaccine, the majority of the population are vaccinated safely and hopefully that will give reassurance to people that this is a safe vaccine."

Director of Public Health, Dr Joy Tomlinson, said they were seeing "lower levels" of deaths than in the earlier stages of the pandemic and this was was a "direct benefit" of the vaccination programme.

"The take home message is people continue to get vaccinated, people continue to follow additional measures being recommended through the Scottish Government and by local routes," she said.

"Keep wearing face coverings, keep getting tested, keep washing hands and try and keep outdoors and when indoors, good ventilation and work from home.

"All the steps add up and, particularly just now when in a challenging stage with a new variant, anything we can do to try and break transmission is of huge importance."