THE self-isolation period in Scotland is to remain 10 days, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

The First Minister said no decision had been reached about whether to exempt or shorten isolation requirements for key workers in “critical services”.

She said ministers “hope to reach decisions in the next week with any changes taking effect from January 5”.

Sturgeon has resisted calls from Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross to cut the self-isolation period to seven days, in line with England.

READ MORE: No new Covid restrictions for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon confirms

In Scotland, fully vaccinated people who have coronavirus currently have to self-isolate for 10 days.

But in England, that has been cut to a week for people who get negative lateral flow results on day six and day seven.

Speaking to the Scottish Parliament on Wednesday, Sturgeon said: "I mentioned earlier the need to mitigate the impact of staff absences on the economy and critical services.

"Obviously, the best way of doing this is stemming transmission.

The National:

Currently in Scotland, people who have tested positive for Covid-19 have to self-isolate for 10 days

"But we must also ensure the requirements for isolation are proportionate.

"I indicated last week that we were weighing the risks and benefits of shortening the isolation period for index cases, and also potentially easing the requirement for all household contacts to isolate following a positive case."

The First Minister said "these are finely balanced judgments" and added that the Scottish Government is "considering the current trends in infection carefully".

She continued: "However, I confirm that we hope to reach decisions in the next week with any changes taking effect from 5 January.

The National: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon says she hopes to reach a decision on lowering the self-isolation period in the next week

"In the meantime, we have introduced a sectoral exemption scheme, subject to appropriate protections.

"And I can confirm today a further change that will help ensure that the exemption scheme - which is dependent on speedy turnaround of PCR tests - is effective."

It comes as PCR testing in Scotland went down for a second time this week with just a handful of walk-through sites offering on-the-day testing.

READ MORE: PCR tests temporarily unavailable across much of Scotland

At lunchtime on Wednesday, only four out of the 56 walk-in testing sites in the country were available for booking a same-day appointment.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf later announced that the lack of appointments was partly due to an "administrative error" which has now been resolved.

Sturgeon added: "The current surge in cases means testing capacity - sampling and processing - is under pressure.

"So we are now prioritising some slots for essential workers – such as NHS and transport staff – as well as for those who are clinically vulnerable or eligible for new Covid treatments.

"This ensures that essential workers get the test results they need to qualify for an exemption promptly."