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Coronavirus in Scotland: ‘Test and protect’ scheme will start on Thursday

Nicola Sturgeon

The Scottish government’s new “test and protect” strategy will go live on Thursday, the first minister has confirmed.

Ms Sturgeon said the scheme will mean anyone with symptoms of Covid-19 should take “immediate steps” to be tested.

They and their household should then self-isolate until the results of the test are known.

If the test is positive, people will need to provide the details of everyone they have had close contact with.

These people will then be contacted by specialist tracers, and will need to “immediately” self-isolate at home for 14 days.

This means they should go home from work straight away, and “take care to come into contact with as few people as possible”.

Ms Sturgeon defined a “close contact” as being:

  • People within your household
  • People with whom you have had face-to-face contact
  • People you have been within two metres of for a period of 15 minutes or more

The first minister stressed that self-isolation means only leaving the house if it is for a coronavirus test – and not for exercise or to get food or medicine.

She said the new scheme would see testing on a scale that has never been done before in Scotland.

It will be introduced across all of the country’s health board areas on the same day as the the lockdown restrictions are due to be eased.


How will test and protect work?

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Scottish government


Ms Sturgeon said Scotland now had the capacity to do 15,000 tests for Covid-19 every day through a combination of NHS labs, universities, the Scottish Blood Transfusion Service and the UK government’s Lighthouse lab in Glasgow.

She said about 700 contact tracers would be needed in the first phase of project – although this would increase to 2,000 by the end of June.

Special contact tracing software has been piloted and will also be introduced on Thursday, with Ms Sturgeon insisting that people’s privacy would be respected.

The Scottish government will publish guidance for employers “making clear they should support any member of staff who is asked to self-isolate through Test and Protect”, Ms Sturgeon said.

People may be able to work from home if they feel well enough, but bosses should not ask people to go into work under these circumstances, she added.

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Reuters

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Ms Sturgeon said testing in Scotland would be ramped up to unprecedented levels

The first minister said the new scheme would be crucial in limiting the spread of coronavirus as the country begins to open up again.

And she said it should not be looked on as being optional – with everyone needing to play their part to ensure it is successful by agreeing to fully self-isolate when asked to do so.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Test and Protect is a really important tool for us in the period ahead. The more effective it is, the more of the lockdown restrictions we will be able to lift.

“It is going to require exactly the same spirit of solidarity and care for each other as lockdown has done. It will be a collective national endeavour.”

A public awareness campaign will start later this week, with further information being delivered to every household in the country next month.

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