Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing staff are to prioritise phone calls to high risk cases to ensure the system delivers maximum benefit as Coronavirus (COVID-19) case numbers increase.
SMS text messages will now be used more extensively for low risk index cases, with direct telephone calls continuing to be used for the most high risk cases.
All individuals are being encouraged to complete the digital contact tracing form, allowing contact tracers to consider where a case is high risk and should receive a phone call. This approach will allow capacity to be focused on the cases most likely to lead to further transmission of the virus.
Additional measures to maximise overall capacity across health boards are being implemented, including supporting ongoing recruitment processes in local contact tracing teams to ensure they can continue to meet agreed staffing deployment requirements, alongside additional surge workforce capacity being brought online in the National Contact Tracing Centre over the coming days.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “At a time when we are facing a record high number of positive cases, our Test and Protect system has continued to operate well and, meeting our proxy measure, the World Health Organisation criteria of closing 80% of close contacts within 72 hours.
“But the third wave of cases means that the Test and Protect system is now contacting record numbers of people each day.
“The shift in approach we are taking will mean more text messages going out and people getting online to report contacts and find information.
“This is a sensible and practical approach which will allow us to focus our contacting tracing efforts on the most high risk cases and prevent further spread of the virus.
“Contact tracers will continue to phone many of those who have tested positive but there will be a focus on more complex, high risk cases. We continue to look holistically at the system to ensure its resilience, including supporting ongoing local recruitment and flexing additional workforce capacity within the National Contact Tracing Centre.
“It’s really important that people who are contacted by Test and Protect continue to self-isolate for 10 days.
“Our Test and Protect staff are doing fantastic work under significant pressure and we should all be thankful for their efforts throughout this pandemic.
“I would encourage anyone who has a smartphone to download the Protect Scotland App – if you test positive, you will receive a code that can be entered into the app, providing isolation notifications to people you have been in contact with.”
Daily case numbers reached a record 4,234 in Scotland this week, although the success of the vaccination roll-out has limited the number of people getting seriously ill and being admitted to hospital.