Apr 062022
 

Test and Protect has been one of the key interventions over the course of the last two years in Scotland to reduce the impact of COVID-19 on our health, and on the wider social and economic harms caused by the pandemic.

In April the primary purpose of testing is changing from population wide testing to reduce transmission, to targeted testing to support clinical care. Testing will also still be required for other purposes too – it will play an ongoing role in health and care workforces, given the clinical risk in those settings, and will be a key part of surveillance. We know too that we continue to face Covid risks – including of new, more harmful variants. Contingency to respond to those risks will, at times, include additional testing.

From Easter onwards, NHS Scotland will begin the transition towards the targeted approach – which they are describing as ‘steady state’. Test sites will remain operational until the end of April. However, to support the transition there may be some changes to opening hours and locations of test sites during April. It is important to note that testing will always be available if advised as part of your clinical care.

After Easter, the key steps will be:

Step 1: From Mid April – (for most people) if you are well, with no symptoms, you will no longer be advised to test twice weekly

  • Advice to the general public to routinely test if asymptomatic will cease and access to lateral flow tests for that purpose will stop.
  • Routine asymptomatic testing in workplaces will cease (with the exception of health and social care settings).
  • Routine asymptomatic testing in education settings – schools, early learning and childcare, and universities – will cease at the end of the current term.

However…

  • PCR tests will remain in place for anyone with symptoms with tests accessible at test sites and by post.
  • Contact tracing and support for isolation continues.
  • Positive cases will continue to be advised to isolate (though can continue to shorten their isolation period if negative on lateral flow tests on day 6 and
    day 7).
  • Fully vaccinated close contacts will continue to be advised to test daily for
    7 days.
  • Anyone visiting a care home or hospital will be asked to do a lateral flow test in advance.

Step 2: From End April – Transition to steady state – move from population symptomatic testing to testing for clinical care, surveillance and outbreak response

  • Move from population level symptomatic testing to targeted testing for clinical care.
  • Groups eligible for testing to support clinical care will access tests through the home order channel.
  • General public will no longer be advised to seek a test if symptomatic – at this stage we will move instead to general public health guidance to stay at home if unwell.
  • Test sites will close at the end of April.
  • Population level contact tracing, isolation and support will end and we will stop using the Protect Scotland proximity contact tracing app (but retain it for future use if required).
  • Surveillance and contingency infrastructure for outbreak response will remain in place.
  • Ongoing routine asymptomatic testing in health and social care workforces will continue – with this kept under regular clinical review.
  • Anyone visiting a care home or hospital will still be advised to do a lateral flow test in advance – though this will be kept under regular clinical review.

For more complete information on this transition, please visit the following website:

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect – transition plan – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)