From today, 18 February, anyone identified as a close contact of somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) will be asked to get tested.
The measure is designed to find asymptomatic cases that would otherwise go undetected, as close contacts are at higher risk than the wider population, given their exposure to somebody with COVID-19.
Previously, outbreak Incident Management Teams have had the ability to order testing of close contacts on a case-by-case basis, in line with local assessment of clinical risk.
Now everyone identified as a close contact via the Protect Scotland app, or through manual contact tracing, will be contacted by NHS Scotland and provided with instructions on how to book a PCR test.
The approach does not replace self-isolation in any way, and close contacts who test negative will still have to complete 10 days of self-isolation, as the virus’ incubation period means the risk of developing COVID-19 is only significantly reduced 10 days after exposure.
Kenneth Gibson MSP said:
“We know that the vast majority of new COVID-19 cases come from the new, more infectuous strains, and not everyone with coronavirus will have symptoms, so people could be spreading the disease without knowing it.
“However, it’s important to remember the incubation period of COVID means that a person could still test positive at a later stage in their isolation period – so a negative test does not mean you should stop self-isolating, and everyone should continue to follow the restrictions that are currently in place.”
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