Coronavirus in Scotland: All care homes to have access to visitor testing over Christmas

All care homes in Scotland will be given access to Covid-19 tests for visitors over the Christmas period, health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

Picture: Andrew O'Brien.

A new supply of rapid lateral flow tests will be rolled out to all care homes by the beginning of February. These tests give results in 30 minutes and will be offered to designated visitors.

Ms Freeman said she hoped testing will reduce “isolation and loneliness” in care home residents.

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An initial rollout will begin with 12 care homes across four local authority areas from December 7.

Picture: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

By December 21 this will be expanded to more homes across seven local authority areas, and it will be extended to all homes by the end of January or beginning of February.

For those homes not in the initial groups, the Scottish Government will provide PCR testing to allow visitors to see loved ones at Christmas.

These tests, which take longer to give results, will be offered in the weeks beginning December 21, 28 and January 4.

No testing will be compulsory, Ms Freeman said.

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“There are up to 42,000 care home residents across Scotland, all them are entitled to a designated visitor,” said Ms Freeman.

"We will use lateral flow testing on the day of the visit, so that if that test is positive, family members and take immediate action to isolate without the harm that could have arisen.

"We will roll out lateral flow testing to up to 12 early adopter care homes across four local authority areas from 7 December, learning from that we will roll out to further homes across an additional seven local authorities before 21 December, with the whole rollout across all care homes completed by January and early February.”

Ms Freeman added: “While this is progress and I hope it is good news, I am mindful of the approaching Christmas period, and I don't want any resident or family member to be disadvantaged. So for those not included in the lateral flow early adopters before Christmas, we will provide access to PCR testing in the weeks beginning the 21 and 28 December, and 4 January.

"Family and loved ones know better than anyone else that testing provides an additional layer of protection. On its own, it doesn't give risk free visiting, but combined with appropriate PPE and strict hand hygiene, I hope it allows more relatives to visit their loved ones, reduces isolation and loneliness for care home residents, and gives providers the additional confidence they need to facilitate more visits.”

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