Asymptomatic testing of care at home workers brought forward
The asymptomatic testing of care at home workers in Scotland has been brought forward by two months.
The health secretary said the decision to accelerate the programme was made because of the "seriousness" of the coronavirus situation in the country.
It means staff in the care at home sector, an industry covering sheltered housing and personal assistance, will have access to COVID testing by the end of January.
Asymptomatic testing is for those without symptoms of COVID.
Jeane Freeman made the announcement at the lunchtime briefing, as she confirmed a further 2,160 people had tested positive for coronavirus. A total of 61 additional deaths of patients with the virus were registered in the last 24 hours.
She said: "I can confirm today that asymptomatic testing of care at home workers will begin from Monday, 18 January, this coming Monday.
"We previously said that this rollout would be completed by the end of March but given the seriousness of the situation that we now face the timetable is being brought forward by two months.
"As a result, Scotland's 85,000 care at home staff will have access to testing by the end of this month. I would like to thank all of the different partners who have helped to make this possible.
"Care at home is a varied sector, covering daycare services, sheltered housing, mobile care at home teams and personal assistance so putting in place a system of testing for all staff has been complex.
"We continue to work with our partners across the sector to ensure that the rollout is as smooth as possible and guidance on the new testing arrangements will be published shortly on the Scottish Government's website."
The health secretary also revealed the fleet of mobile testing units operated by the Scottish Ambulance Service will be expanded from 18 units to 42 by March.