Coronavirus (COVID-19): test, trace, isolate, support strategy
Sets out our plans to help disrupt community transmission of the virus.
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12. It is crucial that we develop a testing capacity that enables us to offer testing to everyone who needs it, in a way that is accessible for them. We know that "test, trace, isolate, support" will have the greatest impact when people are confident in what to do if they have symptoms, are able to receive the test quickly, and get results delivered rapidly. This will require an unprecedented scale of testing capacity in Scotland and we will continue to develop the scale and pace of testing activity in the coming weeks.
13. Testing people who have COVID-19 symptoms will enable them to know whether they can resume normal activities because they are negative, or to receive the care and advice they need to help them and their contacts isolate effectively. We have already rapidly expanded NHS testing capacity in Scotland, from 350 samples a day at the start of the outbreak to 4,350 samples now, and with plans to increase that further to 8,000 samples each day by mid-May. In addition to this, we will be able to access significant testing capacity of around 4000 per day through the Lighthouse Laboratory arrangements.
14. The testing capacity we need will grow as "Test, trace, isolate, support" expands to cover the whole population. As the symptoms for COVID-19 are the same as the symptoms for many other diseases, we expect that a large number of people will need to be tested each day. The number of tests required may not be directly linked to COVID-19 prevalence in the community, but rather to the prevalence of all diseases causing similar symptoms.
15. Our initial estimate is that we may need to provide sufficient tests for around 2% of the population and will therefore need to be able to deliver up to 15,500 tests per day when 'test, trace, isolate, support' is fully rolled out. However, we will closely monitor data on symptom prevalence through our surveillance work and our daily reporting on testing uptake so that we can plan to further increase capacity if required. Active community surveillance at local levels will also be key to identifying outbreaks and informing where "test, trace isolate, support" needs to focus as the pandemic progresses in Scotland.
16. As we phase in the contact tracing work alongside the other aspects of testing that are already underway there is likely to be some overlap with the current approach, for example for key workers. We will continue to model and monitor need and capacity and will develop more detailed plans on the testing capacity required in each NHS Board area to ensure that as "test, trace, isolate, support" is fully rolled out, testing capacity is available to meet demand.
17. In addition to increasing the volume of tests so that more people in the community can be tested, we will continue work to ensure that results can be provided as rapidly as possible. It will also be vital that as part of growing our testing capacity, we strengthen arrangements for ensuring that everyone in Scotland is able to receive the test if needed. In particular, we need to ensure that people living in remote areas, and those who are not able to travel to drive-through facilities are able to access testing.
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