SCOTLAND’S Covid-19 testing scheme will run longer than in England but will be rolled back from April, the First Minister has said.

Nicola Sturgeon set out the incoming changes to the provision of free PCR and lateral flow tests over the coming months during her Covid-19 statement to Holyrood.

The First Minister told MSPs on Tuesday that guidance for people to test twice weekly will end from April 18.

After that, the system will be as follows: 

  • Advice to take a PCR test if you have symptoms, as well as using a lateral flow daily for seven days after a positive test, will be scrapped at the end of April
  • Contact tracing will also cease from the end of next month, but people with symptoms of respiratory illnesses will be asked to stay at home.

From May 1, the Scottish Government will move to a more targeted testing system.

The shift, she said, was brought about due to funding constraints caused by the UK Government’s changes to its testing regime.

The FM said that the Scottish Government is aiming for the “same long-term position” on testing as England, but added that she believes the “transition should be longer”.

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Sturgeon added however that if the Government advises testing at any point, the tests themselves will remain free.

The First Minister explained: “This is as far as we can go within funding constraints, but it allows us to take account of current case numbers, and better support the shift in our management of the virus.”

The National:

Testing in Scotland will continue for slightly longer than in England

She added that until Easter there will be no change in the Government’s advice on Covid testing.

The FM said: “If you don’t have symptoms, you should continue for now to use a lateral flow test twice weekly; daily for seven days if you are a close contact of a positive case; and before visiting someone who is vulnerable.

“If you have symptoms, you should continue to get a PCR test, either at a testing site or by post.

“However, following the Easter weekend - from 18 April - we will no longer advise people without symptoms to test twice weekly.”

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The FM added that with the exception of health and care settings, advice to test regularly for workplaces, early learning and childcare settings, mainstream and special schools, and universities and college, will also end on April 18.

She added: “However, until the end of April, we will continue to advise using LFTs daily for seven days if a close contact, and on each occasion when visiting a hospital or care home.

“And until the end of April, we will continue to advise those with symptoms to get a PCR test. Contact tracing of positive cases will also continue until the end of April.

“PCR test sites will remain open during this period, though opening hours and locations may change during the transition.”

The National:

The FM said the scheme would run as long as it can despite "funding constraints"

The transition will be kept under review, but population wide-testing is also set to stop at the end of April, including for those who have symptoms.

Contact tracing will also stop at the end of April, although people with symptoms of a respiratory illness will be advised to stay at home.

The FM said: “Physical test sites will close at the end of April - although mobile testing units and lab capacity will be retained for our longer term testing purposes.

“We will do everything we can to support those who have worked on the testing programme during the transition. I want to thank all of them for their invaluable contribution over the last two years.

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“From 1 May, instead of a population wide approach, we will use testing on a targeted basis - to support clinical care and treatment and protect higher risk settings; and for surveillance, outbreak management and responding to significant developments, such as a new variant.

“Let me stress that for any purpose for which we continue to advise testing, access to tests will, in Scotland, remain free of charge.”

It comes as the FM announced the legal requirement for Scots to wear face coverings in some indoor settings will be extended.