Health chiefs say contact-tracing scheme is ‘secure’

Scottish Government sets out details before Test and Protect becomes operational on Thursday.

Health chiefs say contact-tracing scheme is ‘secure’ Getty Images

Public health bosses are working to reassure Scots who are called by coronavirus contact tracers – with health secretary Jeane Freeman insisting people are “alert to the risks of potential phone scams”.

With the new Test and Protect scheme having become operational on Thursday, the Scottish Government set out more details of how the tracers will work.

It comes as ministers have faced ongoing questions about the contact-tracing operation following an outbreak of coronavirus at a Nike conference in Edinburgh in late February.

As part of the Test and Protect scheme, contact tracers’ “primary methods” of getting in touch will be by phone or text.

They will always introduce themselves, state the reason for their call and will always identify the person they have contacted by name, the Scottish Government said.

And they will only ask for information about that person’s movements, and who they have been in close proximity to.

The Government made clear that tracers will not ask for personal information, such as bank account details or medical records, and will not offer services or attempt to sell anything to those they contact.

They may however send people a text message or email providing links to guidance and support.

Once contacted people will be expected to self-isolate for 14 days, and they will only be told the person they have been in touch with who has tested positive for Covid-19 if that person agrees to have their details revealed.

Ms Freeman said: “Contact tracers will be supported by software which builds on a tried and trusted platform and will allow us to securely carry out this work on a much larger scale than has been necessary until now.

“It will also focus on supporting public health teams to identify outbreaks and reducing transmission in high-risk groups and settings by making it easier for staff to collect and record information.”

She added: “We understand that people are alert to the risks of potential phone scams and Public Health Scotland is undertaking work to reassure people when they are contacted. The primary method of getting in touch will be by phone call or text message.

“Contact tracing is one part of our work to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic. Physical distancing and good hand and cough hygiene continues to play a vital role in helping to minimise the spread of infection.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code