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It’s the phone call nobody wants – but who are the people behind Test and Protect?

Linda is part of the Test and Protect team.

They have seen the highs and lows of the pandemic. Now Covid cases are rising again, they are waiting to see what the effect on call numbers will be.

A call from the Test and Protect team is not one anybody wants.

If you’re on their list, it means you’ve had a positive Covid-19 test – and this week saw the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

But the Test and Protect team have played a vital role in helping us fight new outbreaks and spread of the virus.

It’s not an easy call to receive and often the team behind the scenes bear the brunt of the frustration.

Linda Dunion is part of the Test and Protect team.

They have an often thankless task, but the team know how it feels on the other side – especially Linda Dunion, Test and Protect Practitioner with NHS Fife, who caught Covid-19 herself.

Linda joined last November from the NHS Smoking Cessation service and said: “Some colleagues have had abuse.

“I have had people who were annoyed – by the end of the call they say ‘I know it’s not your fault’. We realise it’s stressful for people.

“It’s a scary time for them – I’ve had Covid-19 so I’ve been on the other side of it and you know there are lots of questions that come with that.”

When Covid-19 figures go up, the work of the team increases too.

Linda added: “When I started in November there were outbreaks in care homes which really wasn’t nice and you feel the pressure.

“Then there’s days with a complicated case, where you could be dealing with a nursery of 30 children phoning all of their parents and you think, it’s been a tough day.

“Another time I remember we were busier was when the Euro football tournament was on. It seems to have calmed a bit now.

“It will be interesting to see what happens now the schools are back, hopefully with the 16 and 17 year olds starting to be vaccinated, that should help.”

For Linda and the team, it’s not just about gathering details, it can often be about offering support to those who have been diagnosed at a time of worry.

“We advise people there is a self-isolation grant of £500 for those who are self-employed or on benefits.

“The council also offer a shopping service and even a dog walking service for those who won’t have anyone to help them.

“Self isolation is difficult. They might be used to going out to the shops every day for a paper for example, but we have to tell them they can’t do that and advise them to think about what might happen if they did.

“It’s all about giving the public the information they need and supporting them.”

But moments of connection with those in isolation stand out too.

Linda and her team offer advice and support.

“On Christmas day I phoned a woman who had no support and who worked in a care home. She was due to work on Christmas Day but had got Covid-19.

“Even although she was going through all that she appreciated the call and she thanked me for my call.

“I’ve also had to speak to elderly people who perhaps haven’t spoken to anyone but me for days – we’re here to ask them what help they need to get through it.

“It’s a good job and I enjoy speaking to the public and giving them information.

“I just wanted to do my bit for Covid-19.”

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