Scots will get test if they develop Covid-19 symptoms

Scotland's test, trace and isolate regime will go live on Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon said.

If you develop Covid-19 symptoms you should seek to immediately book a test from Thursday, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Scotland’s system to test, trace and isolate all suspected coronavirus cases will go live in two days, the First Minister confirmed.

Sturgeon said the scheme, dubbed “test and protect”, will work alongside plans to begin gradually easing the lockdown from the end of this week.

From Thursday, anyone who has symptoms of coronavirus will be tested and their contacts traced and told to isolate for 14 days.

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A policy of testing all suspected cases of the virus was abandoned in March when all four nations of the UK moved to the second “delay phase” of its coronavirus strategy, against the advice of the World Health Organisation.

The First Minister said that from Thursday, if you develop symptoms you should book a test “straight away” through the NHS Inform website or by calling NHS 24’s coronavirus helpline 0800 028 2816.

Sturgeon said: “The aim of test and protect is to quickly identify cases of the virus and then act to break the chains of transmission.”

She described the new system as being “an extremely important tool for us in the months ahead”, adding: “It will help us suppress the virus as we slowly ease lockdown restrictions.”

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Public health software, already used to trace the contacts of those with other infectious diseases, has been scaled up, Sturgeon said.

This has now been trialled in Fife, Lanarkshire and the Highlands, and will be up and running in all health board areas by Thursday.

The Scottish Government had previously said testing capacity of over 15,000 tests a day would be needed for the new scheme to come into effect, a capacity that including NHS labs and others Sturgeon said had now been met.

She had also set the target of having 2000 contact tracers in place for the start of June, but stated it is currently estimated only 700 tracers would be needed initially.

The First Minister added that by the end of this month there would be “a pool of around 2000 to draw on if necessary”.

She 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.

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“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.”

The announcements on testing and tracing come ahead of Scotland likely entering “phase one” of its four-stage plan to exit lockdown on Friday, expected to allow outdoor meetings between people from two households provided they socially distance.

Some outdoor sports and activities like golf, tennis and fishing will be permitted, and outdoor-based businesses like construction firms and garden centres will be allowed to resume work.

Later on Tuesday, transport secretary Michael Matheson will also make a parliamentary statement on the Scottish Government’s plan for public transport as the lockdown begins to ease.

But reiterating current advice, the First Minister said: “For now, all of us must continue to stick with the lockdown measures.

“So please stay at home, for now, except for essential purposes.

“When you do leave the house, please stay at least two metres away from others and don’t meet up with people from households other than your own.

“You should wear a face covering if you’re in an enclosed space such as a shop or public transport, and that is one of the issues that will be covered in the transport transition plan that the transport secretary will outline in the Scottish Parliament later this afternoon.”

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