Mon 4 May, 2020

Why was this approach abandoned early in this crisis when no health board had more than 11 cases? Alison Johnstone

Scottish Greens have welcomed the Scottish Government’s strategy to test, trace and isolate cases of COVID-19 but have called for the proposals to be given an urgent timescale.

The paper published today commits the Scottish Government to undertake a rigorous testing  and tracing strategy, much like the Scottish Greens have been calling for, but at her press briefing the First Minister would only say that “enhanced” measures would be in place at the end of May.

Commenting, Scottish Greens health spokesperson Alison Johnstone said: “I welcome this recognition by the Scottish Government that test, trace and isolate is the way to tackle the virus, but it is a pity it has come so late. Why was this approach abandoned early in this crisis when no health board had more than 11 cases?

“The Scottish Government has still not committed to eliminating the virus in Scotland, but if we are to do that it will require the test, trace, isolate approach to be upscaled at pace, including the routine testing of all health and care staff and care home residents, whether there are symptoms or not. This means using existing capacity and extending it.

“I’m glad the Scottish Government has recognised that a contact tracing app is a useful addition to the strategy, not the centre of it, but I wasn’t convinced by the First Minister that we have gone far into recruiting contact tracers. Because we don’t know how quickly these 2,000 people will be recruited, or how long it will take to have them trained, questions remain over when the TTI system will be fully operational at a time when lives are at stake.

“Asking people to isolate repeatedly and for long periods is difficult, and the public need to be reassured that Scotland is doing everything it can to eliminate this virus.”

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