Everyone in Scotland will be able to access rapid coronavirus testing, even if they have no symptoms, from Monday to help find cases that might be missed.
Medical experts said the expansion of testing will help efforts to ease the country out of lockdown safely as it will be important to spot and prevent new outbreaks as cases emerge.
Free lateral flow home test kits will be available for people to pick up without an appointment from many local walk-in or drive-through test sites from 3.30pm each day, or by ordering online or by phone, for people to test themselves twice a week.
The expansion aims to find cases that would otherwise go undetected, so that anyone who tests positive for Covid-19 can self-isolate and avoid transmitting the virus to those around them.
Anyone who does not already have access to asymptomatic testing in their workplace or community can now test themselves, including anyone planning to travel to a Scottish island.
Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “This expansion builds on our existing testing strategy, and will help our efforts to ease the country out of lockdown safely.
“Routine testing is already available for people with no symptoms in a wide range of settings, including schools, high-risk workplaces, and communities where Covid-19 rates remain stubbornly high.
“Rapid lateral flow testing is already helping us to find cases that might otherwise have been missed, as around one in three people with Covid-19 do not show symptoms.
“That’s why it’s vital people can access testing, even if they don’t feel unwell. It will help protect the people around you, and help us avoid another return to lockdown.
“It may be tempting to think as vaccinations increase and cases drop, that testing will become less important. In fact, this will only make it more important to spot and prevent new outbreaks as cases emerge.
!We know from our experience of last summer just how quickly one outbreak can lead to another.
“This also applies regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not. While the latest evidence suggests vaccines provide a high level of protection against the effects of Covid-19, they don’t yet provide a guarantee that you can’t still get the virus or pass it on to others.”
Each pack contains seven rapid lateral flow device tests that can provide results in around 30 minutes.
Anyone who tests positive should self-isolate with their household and order a PCR test to confirm the positive result.
Authorities said that anyone who receives a negative result should continue to follow the restrictions and guidance currently in place as a negative result is not a guarantee that someone does not have Covid-19.
Pre-departure testing covers travel to all Scottish islands.
The first test should be taken three days before travel to an island and the second on the day of departure.
Support is available for people who need to self-isolate, including a £500 self-isolation support grant for low income workers.