Home carers without any coronavirus symptoms will start being tested for Covid from Monday, Jeane Freeman has announced.
Testing had been due to begin by the end of March, but the Health Secretary confirmed at Friday’s daily coronavirus briefing it has been brought forward “given the seriousness of the situation we now face”.
She also confirmed 2,160 new cases of Covid-19 had been recorded in Scotland in the past 24 hours.
A further 61 deaths were also recorded, bringing the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 5,227.
The daily test positivity rate is 7.5%, down from 8.3% on Wednesday when 1,707 new cases were recorded.
A total of 159,239 people have tested positive in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
Ms Freeman said 85,000 workers providing care to people in their own homes would have access to testing before the end of this month.
She described testing of such staff, including those who work in day care settings and sheltered housing, as “complex”.
Ms Freeman also announced the fleet of mobile testing units operated by the Scottish Ambulance Service will be “significantly expanded” from 18 to 42 by March.
Additional staff and equipment are being funded, with the Health Secretary saying this will allow each site to be split into two smaller units – meaning 84 communities could potentially be covered at any time.
She said: “These mobile testing units play an important part in making testing more accessible.
“They are, of course, especially useful in rural and remote areas, particularly in the winter months.”
She also said 1,860 people are in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up by 31 in 24 hours, with 141 of these in intensive care – down one in the same period.
Ms Freeman said that as of Thursday, 224,840 people had received their first dose of a vaccine – 16,663 more than the previous day.
Also during the briefing, national clinical director Jason Leitch discussed the recently identified Brazilian strain of Covid-19.
He said: “The Brazilian strain of the virus is a concern, as is the UK mutation, as is the mutation from South Africa.
“We expect mutations to arise, we have to respond as and when they do.
“Our genomic sequencing in this country is the best in the world.”
He said the variant strains are the reason for “draconian” travel restrictions, while those who are found to have the variants will be isolated from other Covid patients in hospitals.
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