While Scotland's response to the COVID-19 pandemic saw the first lockdown driving new infections to low levels over the summer of 2020, challenges remain in breaking the chains of transmission in our communities. These challenges, combined with the new more transmissible variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, resulted in a significant rise in cases over the winter. In January 2021, as a result of a steep increase in the number of infections and the intensity of pressure on the NHS, mainland Scotland moved from Level 4 to a temporary Lockdown.
Three critical actions will help us to move forward:
- doing everything we can to suppress the virus;
- using our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break the chains of transmission;
- rolling out the vaccine as fast as supplies allow.
Scotland's Strategic Framework sets out how we are working to suppress the virus. It covers the decisions we need to make, the balance we have to reach, and it does so rooted in tackling the four harms we know the virus causes: the direct impact of COVID-19, other health impacts, societal impacts, and economic impacts. The Framework introduced the five protection levels that areas may be placed into and outlined a range of indicators which help to inform decisions on their allocation. In order to maximise our chances of effectively suppressing the virus in light of the new, more transmissible strain, further measures to help stop the spread and limit non-essential contact were introduced by the Scottish Government in January 2021. Further information can be found at: Strengthening lockdown restrictions - gov.scot.
All COVID-19 protective measures, as well as the wider Strategic Framework, continue to be kept under review by Ministers.
Significant advances have been made in scaling up and rolling out testing capacity and this is helping to identify cases and break chains of transmission. There has also been significant progress made in the development and roll-out of vaccines across Scotland.
There has also been significant progress in the development and roll-out of vaccines across Scotland with the priority now being to vaccinate as many people with their first dose as quickly as possible.
This 'workbook' brings into one place, advice on how local and national public health agencies provide support to help supress the virus, together with advice on outbreak management.
We have tried and tested approaches to managing outbreaks of infectious disease in Scotland. This workbook aims to encourage a widely shared understanding of these procedures and explain everyone's responsibilities, what will be expected of them, and who will be making which decisions in relation to infection prevention and outbreak control.
Section 1 describes the way in which the spread of COVID-19 is managed in Scotland.
Section 2 describes the approach taken to manage incidents and outbreaks of COVID-19.
Section 3 outlines how organisations and businesses across Scotland can take action to:
- prevent the spread of the virus and avoid outbreaks; and
- play their role in reporting on and helping to manage outbreaks.
Building this prevention and management approach at the required pace, will require that we:
a. work from the tried and tested foundations of what is already there, while being open to innovation; taking the opportunity to refresh, bolster, challenge and test the approach;
b. are mindful of the need to create an approach which is specific to COVID-19, but which allows for other tasks and challenges to be addressed; and
c. ensure that it is a meaningful tool to guide the necessary work for Scotland and not simply provide an additional layer of system assurance.