Everyone in Scotland can now access rapid coronavirus (COVID-19) testing, even if they have no symptoms.
Free lateral flow home test kits are available for pick up without an appointment from many local walk-in or drive-through test sites from 3.30pm each day, or by ordering online or by phone, for people to test themselves twice-weekly.
The expansion is aimed at finding cases that would otherwise go undetected, so anyone testing positive can self-isolate and avoid transmitting the virus to those around them.
It means anyone without COVID-19 symptoms who does not already have access to asymptomatic testing in their workplace or community can test themselves. This includes anyone planning travel to a Scottish island so they can test themselves before their journey.
Each pack contains seven rapid lateral flow device tests that can provide results in around 30 minutes. A positive result means people should self-isolate with their household and order a PCR test to confirm the positive result.
Anyone who receives a negative result should continue to follow the restrictions and guidance currently in place, including FACTS, as a negative result is not a guarantee that someone does not have COVID-19.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith said: “This expansion builds on our existing testing strategy, and will help our efforts to ease the country out of lockdown safely. Routine testing is already available for people with no symptoms in a wide-range of settings, including schools, high-risk workplaces, and communities where COVID-19 rates remain stubbornly high.
“Rapid lateral flow testing is already helping us to find cases that might otherwise have been missed, as around 1 in 3 people with COVID-19 do not show symptoms. That’s why it’s vital people can access testing, even if they don’t feel unwell. It will help protect the people around you, and help us avoid another return to lockdown.
“It may be tempting to think as vaccinations increase and cases drop, that testing will become less important. In fact, this will only make it more important to spot and prevent new outbreaks as cases emerge. We know from our experience of last summer just how quickly one outbreak can lead to another.
“This also applies regardless of whether you have been vaccinated or not. While the latest evidence suggests vaccines provide a high level of protection against the effects of COVID-19, they don’t yet provide a guarantee that you can’t still get the virus or pass it on to others.
“By making home tests so widely available to everyone who needs them, people have more options to get tested and our strong advice is for people to take up this offer to protect people around them, and the progress we’ve made so far.”
Support for people who need to self-isolate is available, including a £500 self-isolation support grant for low income workers. People who do not have family or community support can also call the National Assistance Helpline on 0800 111 4000, or contact via textphone on 0800 111 4114.
More information on self-isolation support is available from ready.scot/coronavirus