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'Test and protect' system comes into effect

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'Test and protect' system comes into effect

From today, anybody who displays symptoms of COVID-19 as well as people who they have been in close contact with will have to self-isolate

The Scottish Government’s ‘Test and Protect’ system, which is designed to control the spread of coronavirus, comes into effect from today.

The approach will involve tracking everybody who comes into contact with someone known to be carrying the virus.

From today, anybody who displays symptoms of COVID-19 will have to alert NHS Inform who will then organise testing and ask for the names of people who they may have been in close contact with in recent weeks.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said that it is “really important” that everybody do this as soon as they suspect they have symptoms, saying “the quicker the NHS can tell if you have the virus, the better chance we all have of stopping it spreading.”

She added: “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.”

Close contact is defined as people within the same household, people who have met face-to-face, and people who may have been within two meters of for a period of 15 minutes or more.

People who receive a call or a message from NHS contact tracers alerting them that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive will be asked to self-isolate immediately for a period of 14 days.

National Clinial Director Jason Leitch confirmed that the process would be the same for people who have previously had the illness. 

He said: "A common question since Test and Protect launched is what if you have had the disease. I’m sorry to say we don’t know enough about the immune response yet so you will have to isolate if asked."

The system will be “part of all our lives for the foreseeable future” until there is a treatment or a vaccine, Freeman said.

She said: “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.”

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