Covid Scotland: Scottish Government need to hire more test and protect staff to combat soaring cases

The Scottish Government says it is ‘bolstering’ its test and protect workforce by bringing in more than 100 staff in an attempt to address rising numbers of coronavirus cases.

To tackle the recent spike in cases, one of Test and Protect’s commercial partners - Ascensos - has agreed an arrangement with Barrhead Travel to increase contact tracing staff by 100.

Additional contact tracing bank staff will also continue to be brought on board and existing staff mobilised, according to the Government.

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Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the additional workforce will help tackle potential increases in demand on the contact tracing system.

Covid testing. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Covid testing. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

He added: "This extra workforce is important, but the success of the system going forward will not simply be about staffing numbers.

"Test and Protect will change as the population becomes more protected by vaccination and it will still play a key role in mitigating clusters and outbreaks in high risk settings, slowing infection spread and protecting populations at risk.”

The news comes as a total of 2,802 covid cases were reported on Thursday as Nicola Sturgeon said there may be a ‘levelling off’ in recent record high numbers.

Last week, daily Covid cases surpassed 4,000 for the first time since mass testing began with 4,234 recorded last Thursday.

Despite the rise, Nicola Sturgeon insisted before the increase in staff was announced that Scotland’s contact tracing system was “coping well” under severe pressure.

Speaking at her coronavirus briefing on Friday last week, the First Minister said: “Test and Protect is under pressure but it’s coping well.

“It’s still meeting the WHO (World Health Organization) target of 80% of cases dealt with, contact tracing done and in quarantine within 72 hours.

“But the pressure is there, and therefore for all of these reasons we have a collective need to try to stem the rising cases as much as possible.”

Last week, the Government announced it has brought in new changes such as greater use of text messaging and digital self-tracing forms to stop growing case numbers and prioritise high risk cases.

Mr Yousaf added: "These changes, along with extra staffing, will ensure that people are contact traced, and begin self-isolation, as quickly as possible.

"I’m confident that the performance of Test and Protect has started to improve in recent days.”

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