Calls to scrap Covid contact tracing system in ‘return to normality’

The Scottish Conservatives suggest funds should be redirected towards tackling issues within the NHS.

Calls to scrap Covid contact tracing system in ‘return to normality’ Getty Images

The Scottish Government has been urged to adopt a “more targeted approach” to tackling Covid-19 amidst calls for the country’s contact tracing system to be replaced.

It is one of a number of suggestions included in a policy paper titled, ‘Back to Normality’, being published by the Scottish Conservatives on Tuesday.

The document recommends placing a greater focus on the protection of vulnerable groups, instead of imposing “blanket” restrictions, such as requiring face coverings to be worn in classrooms.

Phasing out the Test and Protect system, the Scottish Conservatives claim, would also allow funds to be redirected towards tackling other important issues facing the NHS.

The party instead suggests bringing in representative sampling, at a lower cost, whilst pointing to declining performance of Test and Protect in recent months.

Scottish Conservative health spokesman Dr Sandesh Gulhane set out the reasoning behind the document.

“This policy paper is a blueprint for how we return to normality in the near future,” he said.

“We are urging the Government to adopt a new, more targeted approach to Covid.

“We would place a higher emphasis on protecting vulnerable groups and trusting the public, instead of blanket restrictions such as mandating face masks in classrooms.”

Dr Gulhane suggested that Test and Protect is no longer an “effective use” of NHS resources.

“One of the key proposals is replacing Test and Protect,” said the Scottish Conservative MSP.

“It was incredibly useful in earlier stages of the pandemic but it has become increasingly redundant in recent months.

“We are nearing the point where Test and Protect is no longer an effective use of scarce NHS resources.

“As we start to move beyond the pandemic, our approach must adapt to fit the new situation.”

A Scottish Government spokesman explained that Test and Protect “continues to deliver an effective public health function despite record numbers of cases”.

He said: “As case numbers have risen, more people are being contact traced through digital channels.

“Contact tracing resource continues to be targeted to best protect public health including ensuring our objectives of protecting the vulnerable and targeting high risk settings.

They added that the Scottish Government will publish its strategy on how it will deal with the coming stages of the pandemic later this month.

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