Scots who are self-isolating should get their coronavirus test results back within 24 hours as part of the Government’s Test and Protect strategy, the Deputy First Minister has said.
The test, trace and isolate scheme sees people asked to self-isolate for 14 days if they are believed to have come into close contact with someone who tests positive for the disease.
If that person develops symptoms while isolating, they are told to book a test for Covid-19.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Friday, John Swinney said people should receive the results within 24 hours and if they test negative, they can leave isolation.
But despite the Test and Protect scheme being rolled out on Thursday, Mr Swinney said the Government is still working to “speed up the timescale within which results can be passed back”, describing it as a “very critical priority”, amid concerns about testing capacity and contact tracer numbers.
Mr Swinney emphasised the system depends on the “compliance and participation” of the public as Scotland moves into phase one of easing lockdown restrictions.
“We’ve got to have the highest levels of compliance with the arrangements that we’ve put in place,” he said, warning the country will not be able to enter phase two unless the spread of the virus remains under control.
“We need to see that sustained as we move through each of the phases going forward because too much activity will refuel coronavirus within our community.”
The Government has not considered whether to introduce localised lockdowns in certain areas of the country, Mr Swinney said, but he added the idea has not been ruled out.
He said: “We’ve not given consideration to that, but it clearly is a possibility that that could be taken forward.
“We’ve got systems in place right across the country to make sure that we have the capability to contact trace.
“We’ve got the ability to ensure that the steps have been taken to encourage compliance, so we should hopefully be in a position to avoid any circumstance like that.”
On the issue of the most at-risk people who are still unable to leave their homes, Mr Swinney said: “The shielding group have made extraordinary sacrifices and we’ve said that we will set out further guidance to the shielding population before the expiry of the shielding period, which is around the middle of June.
“We’re actively looking at what is the appropriate guidance and taking clinical advice about what needs to be said to that group.
“Among the population, there will be a lot of anxiety about going out. There’ll be a lot of enthusiasm to do it because people have been so insulated from society, but there will also be anxiety about going out, because of the potential risk to individuals.”