A PHARMACIST whose job it is to tell people they have caught coronavirus has spoken about the importance of test and trace.

Gurinder Singh has worked in Swindon for the last eight years and is currently based at Boots in the Brunel Shopping Centre.

He was inspired to play a bigger role in the UK's pandemic fight and joined the NHS test and trace programme as a clinical contact community pharmacist Included in that role is making calls to people when they have tested positive for Covid-19.

He said: “Part of my role is to break the news to them and then I have to figure out with them when their symptoms started and who they have been around, then I would need to contact those individuals.

“We have to show a lot of empathy because they become very worried as they usually know someone who has died from it or been in hospital.

“They can be very distressed so it’s become part of my role to support them emotionally when I give them that call.”

While working at Boots at the start of the pandemic, Gurinder noticed a shift in how customers were behaving as the country went into lockdown and cases soared.

He said: “It was a shock when I did my first shift as a pharmacist after being in my role of doing care home visits for the past two years and being in the middle of a pandemic, especially as there was a great sense of panic amongst the public.

“At the start, as I worked at the Boots pharmacy there were a lot of anxious people coming in and it wasn’t their fault but we had to face the wrath of them.

“They were being asked to socially distance and wait in queues outside, they were very anxious, it wasn’t the best experience but we have overcome that.

"Now looking back at it our pharmacies have done so much for the nation and the government and we have got a lot of appreciation from communities. I think it’s all been worth it.”

Gurinder wanted to do more to tackle the virus and – although his role is not easy – he said it is rewarding.

“We were anxious going into work because for us we were going into a battle and there was a lack of PPE at the start. It was scary for us going back home to our children and families,” he said.

“That’s why I wanted to take part in this NHS service, test and trace, to utilise the skills I learned on the ground and extrapolate them for a much larger picture.

“This isn’t going away anytime soon, so it’s important to keep this programme going and everyone who can should get tested so the world can keep functioning.”