AS a Green, I embrace the idea of communities looking out for each other in a spirit of solidarity.

It is how we will get through this public health crisis and build back a better Scotland. But to hear the Prime Minister pronounce that we all have a “civic duty” to take part in test and trace schemes – at the end of a week where it has been clear his closest adviser has endangered others by assuming the rules did not apply to him – really sticks in the craw.

While the message about civic duty is right, the fact it comes from a leader who cannot take responsibility for his inner circle undermines it and makes it far less clear. That is a tragedy, because while the news has been dominated by Dominic Cummings and his 260-mile trip while carrying the virus, figures have revealed Britain has suffered the world’s highest rate of deaths from the coronavirus pandemic, ahead of the US, Italy, Spain and Belgium.

And given our lack of a rigorous testing regime, of course, the number of deaths could be far higher than the official figures show.

Meanwhile, after five days in a row where no new cases have been reported, New Zealand has announced it no longer has any patients in hospital being treated for coronavirus. That is what winning looks like, and it leaves us wondering how Scotland might have fared had we better followed World Health Organisation advice.

The Covid-19 virus is still very much with us, despite the best efforts of the vast majority of the public. Lockdown has saved thousands of lives, and people are anxious about any easing of restrictions, so guidance from government must be crystal clear.

The focus now must be getting the track and trace system to work in the most effective way possible. I have been pushing the Scottish Government to step up its testing regime for weeks, and that should start with regular testing of all front-line health and care workers.

It is baffling why Scotland hasn’t done this already, when we know that coronavirus is being spread in our hospitals and care homes. At First Minister’s Questions, I raised the fact that 24 staff at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh contracted the virus and it was linked to just one patient.

It’s been more than a month since I proposed regular tests for NHS and care workers, and the Royal College of Nursing has also written to Ministers to back the call. If the track and trace system is going to work, it needs a robust testing process behind it.

But, leaving aside the hypocrisy at the heart of the UK Government, it will also take civic duty. This is because the system of contact tracing means anyone who has been in close contact with a known case will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

As the First Minister said, if people are sticking to guidelines and not coming into close contact with anyone outside their own household, this may not apply to many. But the reality is that as lockdown is eased, the scale of this operation is likely to be huge.

To tackle this virus, test, trace and isolate is absolutely what we must do, but to ask people to self-isolate when they are feeling absolutely fine is going to be a challenge. For some people it’s going to be even tougher. For the self-employed and those in precarious work, isolation may be unaffordable. For those who share their homes with families or others and who don’t have the luxury of extra rooms, isolation may be impossible. For the sole carer of a loved one, isolation might be heartbreaking.

THIS is why the whole system needs to ensure people can isolate safely and fairly. It will not be effective otherwise.

When I asked the First Minister about this she indicated that support currently given to those vulnerable people who have been “shielding” from the virus can be extended.

This has included things such as making sure they have priority access to food, but it may not help in some of the cases I’ve highlighted.

How can a single parent realistically isolate themselves from their children, for example? We may see someone get to the end of a 14-day isolation period then quickly be told to isolate again. If they are self-employed that could have a devastating impact on their finances.

The First Minister said hotels could be used in extreme cases, but what qualifies as extreme?

Anyone who lives in a small house with multiple occupants might require alternative accommodation while they isolate.

We have had 10 weeks of social distancing and handwashing, and even as restrictions are eased that must continue.

But when it comes to the difficult process of test, trace and isolate, civic duty must be accompanied by the duty of all governments to provide leadership and support to our communities.