Following test and trace pilot studies carried out by NHS Fife, Highland and Lanarkshire – NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect programme has been rolled out across all health boards in an attempt to control the spread of COVID-19 in the community.
From that date, everyone aged five and over who has COVID-19 symptoms of a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change in sense of taste or smell should go to NHS Inform online or call 0800 028 2816 to book a test.
Under the system, people will need to isolate with their household as soon as they have symptoms and, if they have a positive test result, they will be asked to provide details of all recent close contacts to NHS contact tracers. Those people will be contacted and asked to isolate for 14 days.
As part of the roll out, guidance for individuals and employers has been published which sets out advice on what to do if someone is displaying symptoms or if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
It includes information on how to self-isolate safely as part of Test and Protect, what plans need to be made by households and families, and how to help older people or those with underlying health conditions.
Additional support for self-isolation is also being made available to those who need it through the National Assistance Helpline.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said:
“The aim of Test and Protect is to protect the public from spreading COVID-19 and to protect the country from a second peak. By ensuring those who may have come into contact with the virus take steps to isolate, we can break the chains of transmission and keep the virus suppressed whilst slowly changing lockdown measures.
“This approach can only work if we all play our part. From Thursday, we are asking everyone aged five and over who has COVID-19 symptoms – a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change in sense of taste or smell – to book a test as soon as possible.
“It is important to do this as soon as symptoms are suspected. The quicker the virus can be identified, the better chance there is of stopping it spreading. It remains vital that alongside Test and Protect people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene.”
Cllr Stuart Currie , COSLA Health and Social Care spokesperson, said:
“COVID-19 continues to have an impact on all of our daily lives and it is important that we carefully manage the transition out of lockdown. That is why we welcome the Test and Protect guidance that has been co-produced by Scottish Government and NHS Scotland in partnership with Local Government.
“It is vital that people work together to follow this advice and self-isolate when required, not just for their own safety, but in order to protect others. Only by taking this approach will we be able to slow the spread of the virus.
“Local Government has already been at the forefront of efforts to support people during lockdown, providing essential services and assistance to the many people in Scotland who don’t have a network of support in place. We will continue to support our communities by taking a central role in the delivery of Test and Protect.”