Darren Adam 1am - 4am
All close contacts of people with Covid to be tested in Scotland
17 February 2021, 14:35 | Updated: 17 February 2021, 14:40
Testing for close contacts of people who have Covid-19 will be rolled out in Scotland from Wednesday, in a new plan to curb transmissions.
In addition to being told to self-isolate for 10 days, Scots will be asked to get a Covid test. If they then test positive their contacts will be traced.
Announcing the new measures at First Minister’s Questions, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that this will mean “more chains of transmission will be broken” as part of a “further strengthening of test and protect”.
Currently, across the UK, people who have been in close contact with someone with Covid are asked to self-isolate but not to take a test unless they develop symptoms.
In Scotland a close contact is defined as “someone who has been physically close enough to the confirmed case for a long enough period of time, that they may have had the virus transmitted to them”.
Normally this is understood as contact of 2 metres or closer for 15 minutes or more.
The announcement came as the latest figures from the National Records of Scotland show 323 deaths relating to Covid-19 were registered between February 8 and 14, down 54 on the previous week.
Ms Sturgeon said the data contained the "first hard evidence of the positive impact of vaccination".
The largest reduction of deaths over the last three weeks was in the over-85 age group, with a drop of 45%, she explained.
"It is reasonable to take some heart from this because it strongly suggests the vaccine programme is having the hoped for effect of reducing the death toll from the virus.”
There was also positive news for those with loved ones living in care homes, which have been hit particularly hard in Scotland.
The number of Covid related deaths have fallen for the last three weeks, with hospital deaths down 11% and deaths in people's homes and other "non institutional settings" down 29%.
"However deaths in care homes, which were the early focus of the vaccination programme, have fallen by 62%," the first minister said.
"In fact, with the exception of one week at the end of August when there were only two Covid deaths registered overall, care homes accounted for a smaller proportion of overall Covid deaths last week than at any time since March of last year.
"I think that is positive news, given the toll the virus has taken on our care homes.”