HUNDREDS of coronavirus contact tracers are being kept on until at least September next year, thanks to more than £30 million of Scottish Government cash.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf announced that £33.1m is being made available to retain the current contact tracing workforce of more than 500.

The money will secure the positions of staff working in this role at local health boards around the country, as well as additional core tracing staff at the National Contact Centre (NCC).

These staff will also continue to be able to call on help from the private sector to cope with any surges in demand going forward.

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While the coronavirus situation may change in the coming months Yousaf said that contact tracing would “remain a key tool in keeping cases under control”.

Currently about 100 whole-time equivalent staff from private firms are carrying out contact tracing work to help curb the spread of Covid-19, as well as the 483 funding posts in health boards and the 50 to 70 people in the core contact tracing service at the NCC.

Mr Yousaf said all those involved in contact tracing work had “played a vital role throughout the pandemic and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude for all their efforts”.

The Health Secretary said: “This commitment to safeguard the workforce until next September should give our staff some important reassurance, and follows previous support we have given to recruitment processes in local health boards and bolstering the number of staff in the National Contact Centre.

“We know the system will continue to adapt in the coming year as we learn to live with the pandemic, but contact tracing will remain a key tool in keeping cases under control, targeted at the highest risk cases and contacts.

“Case numbers remain at a stubbornly high level and our Test and Protect system continues to operate well under increased pressure.”

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Yousaf continued: “We continue to ask anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19 to provide details of their contacts as soon as they are asked by Test and Protect, using our online tracing form or by answering the phone if contact tracers call, so that our teams can work quickly to offer advice to those at risk of having been exposed.

“The majority of people comply when asked to self-isolate and we are thankful for the important role they continue to play in stopping transmission of Covid-19.”