Scotland’s ‘test and protect’ programme to begin this week

The programme to “Test and Protect” people in Scotland against coronavirus will begin on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

At her regular daily news briefing, she said that health authorities now have the capacity to begin 15,000 coronavirus tests a day and the programme will be rolled out across all of Scotland’s 14 health boards.

She said a planned total of 2,000 tracers had been recruited, 700 of whom would be used in the early phase of contact tracing from the end of the week.









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A couple of weeks would be needed for the system to bed down, she said, adding that a digital platform – which has already been on trial – would be provided for people to enter their contacts online.

It means that anyone in Scotland who has coronavirus symptoms will be able to get a test, and have their contacts traced if they return a positive result.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This is a system that will operate at a scale not seen before in Scotland.

“We have, of course, had testing and contact tracing before, but we are substantially increasing the scale.

“Over the first couple of weeks it will need to bed down but introducing it at the same time as we take the first very cautious steps out of lockdown gives us the opportunity to address any operational issues ahead of a potentially more substantial easing of restrictions at the next review date in three weeks.”

She added that public health software that is already used to trace the contacts of those with other infectious illnesses has been scaled up, and urged people with symptoms not to delay taking a test.

Should someone test positive for coronavirus, they will be asked to hand over the names of those they have been with face-to-face at a distance of less than two metres and for more than 15 minutes, who in turn will be contact told to self-isolate.

For privacy reasons, those contacted will not be told who tested positive.

Guidance for employers will be published by the Scottish government that will make it clear “they should support any member of staff who is asked to self-isolate through Test and Protect”.

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Ms Sturgeon added she has spoken to Westminster to “ensure that employment rights and entitlement to benefits, including statutory sick pay, take account of the fact that people might be off work or unable to attend appointments through no fault of their own”.

Being asked to isolate in this way is “something that over the months ahead could happen to any of us on more than one occasion”, Ms Sturgeon said.









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“Your privacy will be respected at all times during this process,” she added, saying the information of tested persons will not be accessible by the Scottish Government and will be handled within the NHS.

The programme launch came as another 18 people died with COVID-19 in Scotland on Monday, with 29 people testing positive for the virus.