Coronavirus (COVID-19): test, trace, isolate, support strategy

Sets out our plans to help disrupt community transmission of the virus.

This document is part of a collection


1. COVID-19: A Framework for Decision Making sets out the steps required for a managed transition out of lockdown. That framework recognises the need for a range of public health measures to be deployed to enable us to ensure low levels of community transmission of the disease.

2. One of these public health measures is the "test, trace, isolate, support" approach. This approach is designed to help us interrupt chains of transmission in the community by identifying cases of COVID-19, tracing the people who may have become infected by spending time in close contact with them, and then supporting those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the disease they are less likely transmit to it to others.

Flowchart demonstrating how the “test, trace, isolate, support” approach works. If a person experiences symptoms they think are consistent with COVID-19, they self-isolate. An initial assessment is undertaken online or by phone, and a test arranged if appropriate. The process to identify close contacts begins. If the test result is negative, the person no longer needs to self-isolate and contact tracing does not take place.  If the test result is positive, contact tracing is used to identify close contacts and support them to isolate for 14 days.

3. An overview of the approach is provided at Annex A.

4. "Test, trace, isolate, support" will not be effective on its own. Instead it must be used alongside other public health measures to reduce transmission, such as physical distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene, including appropriate use of face coverings, and disease surveillance. It will be important that everyone living in Scotland understands the symptoms to look out for in themselves and their household, and what to do if they do get those symptoms. More than that, "test, trace, isolate, support" will require us all to be ready to self-isolate on each occasion someone we have been in close contact with is diagnosed, in order to protect the people we would otherwise have come into contact with.

5. We will introduce "test, trace, isolate, support" starting with contacts of priority groups we are already testing, such as patients, and NHS and social care workers, and then quickly broaden coverage as we continue to increase our testing capacity, so that contact tracing is carried out for all cases identified in the community.



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