Mobile units set up by the military to carry out Covid-19 tests at care homes will be in operation in Scotland by next week, the Scottish health secretary has said.
Jeane Freeman also confirmed plans are being made to recruit hundreds of people to carry out contact tracing in the future, in conjunction with digital technology.
She said five of the mobile units are expected to be in place in the next week, while up to 2000 people may be needed for contact tracing.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Ms Freeman said: “We anticipate in the coming week we will have five of those and then that will be followed by a further eight.
“We’ll be able to offer that more direct mobile testing facility as well as what is currently under way through our NHS labs.”
She said the latest figures indicated 20% of care workers and care at home workers had been tested for Covid-19 but since then significant efforts have been made to ensure care providers understand how to access the system and that care workers know they and their household can be tested if symptomatic.
Ms Freeman said around 80% of eligible NHS workers have been tested, including the ambulance service, NHS 24 and health workers in primary care and community settings.
On future plans for contact testing, she said: “Contact tracing is a complex and skilled operation and to do it at scale requires both a mix of proven digital technology and human beings. Human beings who are skilled in what they do.
“So we are actively looking at how we need to scale up our current health protection teams who in the past would undertake contact tracing for infectious diseases, so that we can begin the strategy and increase the strategy that is about test, trace and isolate.”
Questioned on how many people would be required, she said: “We are thinking along the lines of between 1500 and 2000 in total to do it.”
She added: “We have digital technology here in Scotland that already has the capacity to trace in terms of some infectious diseases, that we undertake routinely.
“Being able to scale that up is also being actively looked at because we know that that technology works.”