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Coronavirus / Stay at home message replaces Covid testing and isolation for those with symptoms

COVID testing for the general population has now been phased out in Scotland – with contact tracing and formal self-isolation also coming to an end.

Instead of people with Covid symptoms being told to take a PCR test and isolate for up to ten days, folk are now just being asked to stay at home and avoid contact with others if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of a respiratory infection.

The new guidance came into force across Scotland on Sunday (1 May) as the country adapts to living with Covid.

Testing, however, remains available to specific groups including for clinical care, for health and social care workers and for people visiting care homes or hospitals.

If adults in these groups do test positive for Covid-19, they are now being asked to stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days after their test, or from when they developed symptoms. This is three days for children and young people.

Other adults who have symptoms of Covid-19 and other respiratory illnesses and have a high temperature or do not feel well enough to go to work or carry out normal activities are advised to stay at home until their fever has gone or they feel well enough.

In line with the change of guidance, Covid-19 symptoms now include ailments like shortness of breath, unexplained tiredness, muscle aches or pains and headaches.

The Scottish Government recommends that if people do go outside when feeling unwell, they can wear a mask and avoid crowded places to limit potential spread.

Children and young people aged 18 and under with mild symptoms such as a runny nose, sore throat or a slight cough, who are otherwise well, do not need to stay at home and can continue to attend their education.

They should only stay at home if they are unwell and have a high temperature. They can go back to school, college or childcare and resume normal activities when they no longer have a fever and they feel well enough to attend.

People who are midway through a self-isolation period should follow the revised guidance.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Scotland’s Test and Protect programme has been one of the key interventions in our response to Covid-19, the success of which has been due, in no small part, to the remarkable staff and volunteers working in Test and Protect – my sincere thanks go to them.

“I would also like to thank the Scottish public for their commitment and willingness to engage with Test and Protect when it was required of them and helping to protect their fellow citizens.

“However, we recognise we are now in a different phase of the pandemic. The primary purpose of testing is changing from population-wide testing to reduce transmission, to a targeted response focused on reducing severe harm of the virus.

“As we are now seeing a steady reduction in new Covid cases, the NHS will no longer remain on emergency footing after Saturday 30 April. But we must continue with a measured approach to support the recovery and renewal of our NHS.”

Further information on the stay at home guidance can be found here.

Following a change in guidance last month about people without Covid symptoms no longer needing to carry out lateral flow tests, Shetland’s case numbers have dropped.

Last month the legal requirement to wear face coverings in certain public places also ended.