‘Test, trace, isolate’: Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon on Monday revealed her government’s new approach to ease restrictions, but insisted that conditions are not yet conducive to any change in the measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
Sturgeon’s announcement came in the context of growing demands that the Boris Johnson government disclose UK-wide measures to lift some restrictions, as the death toll neared the 29,000 mark, with nearly 1.9 lakh cases.
She said in Edinburgh: “We will test people in the community who have symptoms consistent with Covid-19. We will use contact tracing, a well-established public health intervention, to identify the close contacts of those cases, who may have had the disease transmitted to them”.
“We will ask and support those close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they do develop the disease, there is less risk that they will pass it on to others. And we will make sure that support is available to enable people to isolate effectively”.
However, Sturgeon stressed that the TTI approach will be most effective when levels of infection are low and stay low, adding that its success relies on people knowing and agreeing what to do when symptoms emerge, and being prepared to self-isolate when advised to do so.
Johnson is due to reveal a ‘roadmap’ out of the lockdown on Sunday, which reportedly includes measures to minimise employees using equipment, stagger shift times and maximise home-working, according to a leaked draft.
But the UK must not lift restrictions too soon, only when its five tests are met, he said in a video message on Monday, adding: “The worst thing we could do now is ease up too soon and allow a second peak of coronavirus.”
The five tests are: That the National Health Service can continue to cope; that the daily death rate falls sustainably and consistently; that the rate of infection is falling; that the operational challenges have been met’ and most importantly, that there is no risk of a second peak.