Coronavirus testing is due to be expanded among NHS staff and face coverings will be mandatory for visitors to hospitals and care homes, the Health Secretary has announced.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Jeane Freeman said those working in cancer care, long-term care of elderly people and long stay mental health wards will receive a weekly test from July 8.
Face masks will also now have to be worn in hospitals and care homes by all staff who have contact with patients or residents.
It follows recommendations from the chief nursing officer’s expert group on nosocomial transmission.
Tests have been reserved for those working directly with Covid-19 patients or staff who had been affected by a coronavirus outbreak in hospital.
Ms Freeman said the new face mask measures are “designed to reduce the risk of transmission from the person wearing the mask or face covering.”
Guidance will be issued this week, the Health Secretary said, with the new measure being put in place on June 29.
Enhanced cleaning will also be put in place in areas with high patient volume from June 29.
Scottish Greens co-leader Alison Johnstone asked the Health Secretary if there are plans to expand testing further to all staff in the NHS.
Ms Freeman said the same group of advisers said the three groups identified are sufficient to protect vulnerable patients.
But she added: “It may be, in time, that advice would change to widen it to other cohorts of NHS staff but at this point their expert and clinical advice is to focus it in the way that I’ve described.”
Ms Freeman also told MSPs the Scottish Government is on track to produce a “digital tool” to be used alongside its Test and Protect scheme to help trace contacts of people with confirmed Covid-19.
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton asked the Health Secretary about the disparity between the average number of contacts traced in England compared to Scotland.
Some 8.5 people have been contacted on average per positive test result in England, compared to 1.2 in Scotland.
The Health Secretary said the difference is down to a combination of quicker easing of lockdown restrictions in England, as well as a difference between how complex cases – confirmed Covid-19 cases in a high risk area such as a school or a prison – are dealt with.
Currently, complex cases are dealt with by health protection teams in local areas, meaning that the data is kept separate from the wider Test and Protect scheme.
Ms Freeman said: “However, we are now looking at how we can bring that data together so that the Test and Protect data that is published includes data from these complex cases.
“That would give a more comparable position between Scotland and England.”