Test and Protect

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman (pictured) explains how we can all play our part in the fight against coronavirus (COVID-19).

Test and Protect is NHS Scotland’s new approach to controlling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the community.

The system will help to prevent you from spreading the virus, and protect the country from a second peak. But just like lockdown, it can only work if we all play our part.

From today, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 – a new continuous cough, temperature or loss or change of taste or smell – you should immediately visit NHS Inform or call 0800 028 2816 if you can’t get online.

It is really important you do this as soon as you suspect you have symptoms.

The quicker the NHS can tell if you have the virus, the better chance we all have of stopping it spreading.

When you contact the NHS you will be able to book a test at a mobile testing unit, a drive-through testing centre or order a home testing kit.

While you wait for that result, it is important that you and everyone in your household self –isolates.

If you test positive, you will need to self-isolate for 7 days, and your household for 14.

That has always been the case. What’s new is that now, as we begin to ease some of the lockdown measures, in order to keep the virus suppressed, we will also need to trace your close contacts and advise them to isolate for 14 days, with support.

So, if you get a positive test result you will be asked who you have been in close contact with.

This includes people in your household, people you have had direct face to face contact with for any length of time, and those you have been within 2 metres of for 15 minutes or more.

This NHS system is entirely confidential, when the people you have been near are contacted they will not be told who it is that they have been in contact with.

This information is only collected and used by NHS Scotland for the purposes of tracing your contacts.

The Scottish Government will not have access to it.

If you receive a call or a message from a contact tracer to say you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, they will ask you to self-isolate immediately.

It is hugely important you do this in order to stop the spread of the virus.

It is only by all playing our part, getting tested, providing information and agreeing to isolate, that we can cut the numbers of people getting the virus.

You can find guidance on the Scottish Government website to help you self-isolate, which includes advice on what to do if you care for someone who is shielding, and how you can access food and medicine.

It’s also a good idea to take steps to ensure that you are prepared in advance, in case you are ever asked to isolate.

For those who cannot leave their home and who cannot get the help they need from family, friends or online, the National Assistance Helpline (0800 111 4000) is available Monday to Friday, from 9.00 am 5.00 pm.

We have also published guidance for employers which makes clear that they should support anyone who needs to self-isolate as part of Test and Protect.

We are also working with the UK Government to ensure that people are fully protected by their employment rights and benefits, such as Statutory Sick Pay as a minimum.

Of course, the best way to avoid having to isolate, is to follow the rules on physical distancing and stay 2 metres apart from anyone outside of your own household.

Test and Protect will be part of all our lives for the foreseeable future, until we know we have fully suppressed the virus, or there is a treatment or a vaccine that we can be confident will protect people properly.

So, as we slowly change the lockdown restrictions, for everyone to enjoy more freedoms, we must all play our part by isolating when we are asked to.