Coronavirus (COVID-19): Surveillance and Response - position statement

Sets out how existing planning arrangements, structures and national health protection guidance is being adapted to address the challenges of the next phases of the public health management of the COVID-19 outbreak.

1. Introduction

COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making sets out the steps required for a managed transition out of lockdown. The framework recognises that the nature of our response will need to adapt. As we move carefully from our current position, real-time monitoring of the virus and action to suppress transmission will become increasingly important. This is our public health "Surveillance and Response" approach, which is in line with the criteria and ambition put forward by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Scotland has a well-established public health infrastructure. This has been proven time and again in recent months. The Surveillance and Response approach, along with Test and Protect, is core business for public health teams in all fourteen of our NHS Health Boards, supported by teams in all Scotland's local authorities and many other agencies. This approach enables us to respond rapidly and collaboratively to any incident or outbreak at a local, regional and a national level.

A pandemic of this scale, however, presents these services with an unprecedented challenge. We are developing new local and national resources to enhance the Surveillance and Response approach, to make it faster and more sustainable. These excellent services are not just necessary to meet the challenge of COVID-19. Our ambition is to develop Scotland's public health infrastructure to ensure it's ready to face any future pandemics and to contribute to improving Scotland's population health.

Our approach to Surveillance and Response will build on the well-developed and effective structures and processes that we already have in place:

  • We will be informed by real-time data streams and wide-ranging analysis that tells us the nature and location of the problem and monitors the effectiveness of the response;
  • We will take action through rapid implementation by the right people at the right time to contain any incidents;
  • We will ensure robust, agile and proportionate decision-making processes are in place at the national and local level, based on statute, and a range of clearly defined options;
  • We will ensure clear engagement and communications are in place to help protect our people and communities and support our businesses and services; and
  • We will be transparent over how data is being used to inform our decisions, with regularly updated Privacy Statements and a clear commitment to ethical decisions. [1]

The approach consists of the six elements set out below and the following sections of this report will set out further detail on each of these.

  • Understanding The Status of The Virus in Scotland
  • Scotland's COVID-19 Surveillance System
  • Scotland's COVID-19 Data and Intelligence Network
  • Clear Engagement and Communication
  • Decision Making Following an Outbreak in Scotland
  • Scotland's Approach to Managing COVID-19 Outbreaks



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