Call to routinely test frontline hospital and care workers

The Scottish Greens want tests to be brought in for those who are not showing symptoms of coronavirus.

Call to routinely test frontline hospital and care workers Getty Images

Frontline hospital and care workers in Scotland should be routinely tested for Covid-19 regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms, the Scottish Greens have said.

The party has written to health secretary Jeane Freeman urging her to introduce the policy, arguing it will “better protect” such staff, prevent people isolating needlessly and reduce anxiety around symptomless workers passing on the virus.

Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone said the additional testing capacity currently not being used could be turned over to these tests.

In a paper outlining the proposal, the party said its analysis of Scottish Government figures indicates an average of 1186 tests have been carried out daily since April 5.

On that day, 2345 tests were administered and the Greens said this suggests “at most 50% of existing testing capacity” is being used on average.

Ms Johnstone said health and care workers are concerned hospitals and care homes are “becoming hotbeds for transmission of the virus”.

She added: “The proposal I have published today would allow for all health and care workers on the frontline of the Covid-19 pandemic to be routinely tested regardless of whether they are showing symptoms of the virus.

“There are significant concerns that infected health and care workers who are pre-symptomatic, asymptomatic or suffering from mild symptoms may be spreading Covid-19. 

“Instituting routine testing would help reduce anxiety and better protect frontline staff, and it would ensure no-one needs to isolate needlessly.

“A significant volume of Scotland’s testing capacity is currently going unused. This additional capacity makes the swift implementation of regular health and care worker testing practical and achievable.”

The Scottish Government has said all symptomatic people categorised as key workers and members of their household can be tested, with health and social care key workers remaining the top priority.

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