Coronavirus testing of care home visitors will begin in some Scottish care homes from today.
Lateral flow testing of designated visitors will be trialled at 14 care homes before being rolled out across Scotland from mid-December.
The trials will take place at care homes in North Ayrshire, Fife, Argyll and Bute, Inverclyde and Aberdeenshire.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said testing kits will then be sent to all care homes from next Monday – December 14 – once guidance and training for the scheme have been developed following the trial.
Not all care homes are expected to be able to offer the tests to visitors by Christmas, so the Government has confirmed PCR tests will be available for visitors at coronavirus testing centres.
Lateral flow tests are not as sensitive as traditional PCR testing but do not need to be analysed in a laboratory so they can produce same-day results.
Designated visitors will be able to take the test to indicate whether they have the virus ahead of seeing friends, relatives and loved ones in care homes.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “This is a positive step for care homes, residents and their families and friends, that will provide another important layer of protection against Covid, alongside the essential PPE and infection prevention and control measures already in place.
“I’m very pleased to say we will be able to significantly accelerate the delivery of testing kits to all cares homes from December 14, following the necessary trial phase to ensure we have the right guidance and training in place.
“This will require a significant amount of work from care homes, and we will continue to work closely with health and social care partnerships, Scottish Care, CCPS and Cosla as test kits are rolled out to ensure they have the support they need to deliver testing for designated visitors.”
If a visitor tests negative for the virus, they will still be required to wear full PPE during their visit and follow infection prevention and control measures.
If there is a positive result, the visitor will be advised to leave the home, self-isolate and book a PCR test online at NHSInform.scot, or by calling 0800 028 2816.