Following an update from the First Minister, everyone in Scotland will be able to access free rapid (lateral flow) coronavirus tests twice a week, from 26 April.
Free lateral flow tests for adults who live with you
Lateral flow tests are at-home coronavirus tests that give quick results. These tests are only for people who do not have coronavirus symptoms.
Everyone in Scotland can now get free home-testing lateral flow tests to take twice a week. This will help to find people who don’t have symptoms and would not know they have coronavirus.
If adult members of your family or household get a positive test, this could reduce the risk of them passing on coronavirus to you as they will then know to self-isolate away from you.
How to get lateral flow tests
You can order free lateral flow tests for adults in your household at www.gov.scot/covidtestshielding or by phoning the National Testing Centre on 0300 303 2713.
On the website, follow the instructions under ‘Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests’. A pack of 7 lateral flow tests will then be sent to your home within 1 to 2 days. You can re-order when you need more tests. If the system reaches its daily maximum capacity you can just order the next day. Results of the tests should be reported, whether positive, negative or void There is more information about lateral flow tests attached with this letter.
You may also be able to get lateral flow tests from some local or regional community testing centres. www.gov.scot/covidtestshielding will soon have more information about this.
To find out more, take a look at the frequently asked questions below.
What is the offer?
The First Minister has announced that everyone in Scotland will be able to access free rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) tests twice a week, from 26 April.
Lateral flow device (LFD) testing kits can give quick results for people that have no symptoms (asymptomatic). The tests are intended to be taken regularly in order to identify people who may have Covid-19 before they develop symptoms. This will help to prevent transmission from people who test positive.
The main aim of promoting this specifically to people on the shielding list is to prevent someone who may unknowingly have COVID-19 transmitting this to someone in their family or household who is on the shielding list.
What is a rapid lateral flow test (LFD)?
The tests involve taking a swab of tonsils (or where tonsils would have been) and nostrils. The result is usually ready in 30 minutes. The key benefit is that people do not need to attend a testing centre and can get the result at home.
LFD tests have a lower specificity than other tests, which means that a positive test needs to be followed up and confirmed by a PCR test. The PCR test is taken at a testing centre and sent to a laboratory for results which can take a day or 2. This means that if someone tests positive through a rapid test, they can start to isolate immediately while they wait for a follow-up, confirmation PCR test result.
When does this start and who is eligible?
Everyone will be able to request supplies of LFD tests from26 April. The Chief Medical Officer’s letter (attached) advises people on the shielding list that they may find it beneficial if members of their household participate in regular testing. A text message will also be issued on Monday 26 April to those registered for the national shielding text messaging service.
Lateral flow tests are now available for any adults who live with you to order. These are free, quick, at-home coronavirus tests that people with no symptoms can use twice a week. If they test positive, they should isolate from you. Order online at www.gov.scot/covidtestshieldingor by calling 0300 303 2713.
This may result in an increase in calls to the national helpline.
Why are we doing this?
LFD testing kits can give quick results for people that have no symptoms (asymptomatic). Regular testing will help us to prevent transmission from people who would not have been aware they have coronavirus to people who are on the shielding list
LFD tests are already available in some work places such as health and social care and schools, and for pupils at secondary schools. We recommend them only for people aged 12 or over.
As restrictions ease, extending use of LFD testing more widely will help identify infections early and help keep people safe by reducing the risk of transmission. They may also provide some additional reassurance for people who have been shielding and may be anxious about increasing their interactions with others as restrictions ease up.
How do you order test kits?
You can order tests online at www.gov.scot/covidtestshieldingor by phoning the National Testing Centre on 0300 303 2713.
People should follow the instructions under “Order coronavirus (COVID-19) rapid lateral flow tests”. This will take people to the UKGovernment website: Do you have coronavirus symptoms? – Get a coronavirus test – GOV.UK (test-for-coronavirus.service.gov.uk).
Once completed, a pack of seven lateral flow tests will be delivered to them within 1-2 days. People can re-order when they need more tests. If the system reaches its daily maximum capacity they will be able to order the next day.
It may also be possible to get lateral flow testing kits from some local or regional community testing centres. Further information will soon be published at www.gov.scot/communitytesting.
What do you do if a person on the shielding list’s house tests positive?
Positive lateral flow test results need to be followed up and confirmed by a PCR test. If you or someone you live with gets a positive result from a lateral flow test, the result must be entered online, following the instructions that come with the test.
All members of the household must self-isolate immediately. The household member who has tested positive should also isolate separately from the rest of the household which includes the person on the shielding list. The person who has tested positive will be contacted by a contact tracer with further information and advice.
The person who has tested positive should also book a PCR test which will be sent to a laboratory to confirm their result. This means that if a household member has tested positive through a lateral flow test, they can start to isolate immediately to reduce the risk of transmission occurring to the person who is on the shielding list as well as more widely.
If the PCR test is negative, your local health protection team will get in touch to assess whether you can all safely stop isolating.
What should someone with coronavirus symptoms do?
Lateral flow tests are for people who are asymptomatic (meaning they do not have symptoms). If anyone develops coronavirus symptoms, they must book a PCR test at a testing centre which then gets sent to a laboratory for results. You can book a PCR test at Coronavirus (COVID-19): Get a test if you have symptoms | NHS inform or www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test or by phoning the National Testing Centre on 0300 303 2713.
What if someone has recently had a positive result following a PCR test?
People who have had a positive test result from a PCR test (a coronavirus test at a testing centre) in the last 90 days should not use lateral flow tests. If they develop symptoms again within 90 days of their last positive result, they should book another PCR test.
What support is available to isolate?
People on the shielding list have been advised that their local council can help them or the people they live with to find somewhere to stay so they can self-isolate, if needed. They have also been advised they can access support to access food, medicine deliveries and other support, in line with the current support offer provided through the Local Self-Isolation Assistance Service and National Assistance Helpline
If they are unable to work from home andearn less than the real living wage, they may be entitled to financial support, such as the Self-isolation Support Grant. This depends on their circumstances. They can find out more at www.mygov.scot/self-isolation-grant or by contacting the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000 (Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm).
Support with accommodation
Local authorities will have considered support with accommodation as this is already part of follow up support for self-isolation under Test and Protect though to date it is likely that very few people have taken up the offer of this service in your local authority area.
Isolation accommodation may include self-catering, B&B and hotel accommodation. Local Authorities will already be working closely with third sector organisations and respite care groups within their localities. They should continue to maintain these links and see if there are any opportunities to link up with local partners to provide effective support. Councils will know their localities better than Government and should flexibly deploy and access support as needed.
I need to tell my employer I am self-isolating
People are able to get a letter to show their employer, detailing the need to self-isolate for a prescribed period, from the NHS by visiting 111.nhs.uk and visiting the Get an isolation note – NHS (111.nhs.uk).They may also be offered an e-notification from Public Health Scotland if actively contact traced.
Further information on how to self-isolate
You can find further information on effective self-isolation at the following Scottish Government website: Scot Gov: How to self-isolate effectively Coronavirus (COVID-19): Test and Protect – gov.scot (www.gov.scot)
NHS inform Coronavirus (COVID-19): Guidance for households with possible coronavirus infection is available at the NHS Inform website.https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/test-and-protect/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-households-with-possible-coronavirus-infection
Monitoring demand and capacity
The LFD test national positivity rate as at 28 March was 0.1%. User research indicates a high interest (81%) from those on the shielding list using the offer of household testing. However, household members of someone on the shielding list are also more likely to be more cautious and careful than others, so positivity rates could be lower. We also know that up to now, uptake of the accommodation offer has been very low and people have used family and friends to find solutions. We would encourage this to continue. Given the size of the shielding cohort, it is very likely that a significant number of people in this group have already received the LSIAS service, but not required isolation accommodation.
We therefore propose to adjust the weekly Isolate and Support data collection to record whether accommodation referrals and provision are made for shielding or non-shielding households, so that we can assess demand and capacity and address any issues arising. We will keep demand and capacity closely under review.
The process for funding isolation accommodation support will continue through the funds established for wider self-isolation support. Local Authorities will be able to claim for re-imbursement for the provision of this support through the General Revenue Grant at the end of financial year 2021/22, as they can for wider support for isolation.
What happens if we can’t find accommodation for those isolating?
In the event your local authority is unable to source accommodation for someone requesting isolation accommodation, you may wish to consider contacting nearby local authorities who may be able to support. In addition, you may wish to consider linking in with third sector organisations within your local area to see if they are aware of further accommodations available. In circumstances where you cannot provide accommodation and have exhausted all reasonable expectations to source it, then local authorities should explain to those contacting them that they have capacity issues with accommodation and on this occasion will not be able to facilitate the request.