Whilst on the lookout for volunteering roles in Glasgow, I came across the opportunity to volunteer at Scotland’s largest mosque, Glasgow Central Mosque, to help out at the Asymptomatic COVID-19 Testing Clinic. I immediately jumped at the chance to get involved.
An asymptomatic COVID-19 test is a test for members of the public who are not experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms in order to find out if they have the virus. It is extremely important to identify asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 early as they are more likely to pass it on unknowingly. This could be whilst carrying out daily activities, such as essential food shopping or exercising, and as a result, could contribute to rising case numbers.
It is important to note that, in Scotland, if a person is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they have to arrange a test through NHS Inform – this is not the same as the asymptomatic testing clinic.
The asymptomatic testing clinic is a walk-in service. Upon arrival, initial details are filled in through a QR-code (a smartphone is essential for this test). The test is then performed and usually only takes a few minutes. Results are processed within half an hour to determine whether the person has tested positive or negative for the test.
A positive test means that the person will have to self-isolate in order to bring themselves out of the circulation. This lowers the risk of this person passing on the infectious disease to others.
The mosque provided the event hall with space to set up a one-way system and testing booths. It is also designed so that social distancing can take place, and has sanitisation stations at the front and dotted around the clinic. As well as this, there is a desk at the front where the testing procedure is explained and details are filled out.
This service is facilitated with both the military and civilians. Civilians are able to guide people to sanitise and take them to registration, as well as shadow certain aspects of the procedure for example how a person is registered and how the one-way system works. They are also responsible for encouraging members of the public to go and get tested. I was able to sort out the bar codes that are used to scan for inputting details, which was enjoyable as it was hands-on. The military, on the other hand, is responsible for the clinical side of things, such as conducting the actual test and answering questions of those being tested.
Unfortunately, due to the risk of COVID-19 being so high, I am not allowed to shadow the testing aspect of this. However, there is a lot to learn from this volunteering experience, and it is very different from anything I have done previously.
It highlighted the importance of team-work and good communication skills: for example, there was an incident where a lady was unable to speak English and my ability to speak Urdu meant I was able to act as a translator for the officer in charge. The barriers and face masks also made it quite difficult to hear and I quickly realised the value of using hand gestures when explaining instructions. It also showed me that it will require a collective effort to stop the spread of the virus. Getting tested when you are not showing symptoms shows that you are playing your part as a citizen and are understanding the responsibility that comes with it. The sooner we stop the spread; the sooner we can go back to our normal lives.
The perks of this volunteering opportunity were that I could meet people legally in real life, instead of meeting them over Zoom calls. It certainly felt good to interact on a more human level than a virtual level. This is a great experience for anyone considering a career in medicine or a similar field, as currently a lot of work experience is being carried out online. Being able to interact with people face-to-face may allow you to develop some slightly different skills.
If you have an asymptomatic test clinic near you, it is worthwhile to ask if you are able to volunteer to shadow/gain relevant experience and it is also really worth getting tested. You could really save lives by doing so.
Author: Iqra Ali
Editor: Allegra Wisking