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Covid: Scottish Government giving ‘active consideration’ to shortening self-isolation period

The deputy first minister highlighted the high numbers of positive Covid cases across the country over the last four days.

The Scottish Government is giving “active consideration” to reducing the number of days for Covid-19 self-isolation, according to the deputy first minister.

Last week John Swinney said that the Scottish Government was considering shortening the isolation period in line with the UK Government.

Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland on Wednesday, the cabinet secretary for Covid recovery confirmed that his government is now looking at the clinical evidence emerging around self-isolation.

He said: “The key question is whether or not the period that is required for self-isolation is necessary to ensure that we interrupt the circulation of the virus.

John Swinney.

“That must be the key consideration and obviously that is the judgment that we will form on the clinical advice and evidence presented to us.”

Since December 22 anyone in England who is fully vaccinated and tests positive for Covid-19 will only need to self-isolate for seven days.

This is on the condition they receive negative lateral flow tests on days six and seven of their isolation period.

Mr Swinney has again said that the Scottish Government is giving “active consideration” to shortening the self-isolation period.

However, he says that if people return to work while still spreading the virus it will “defeat the point”.

Is self-isolation putting the NHS under pressure?

The deputy first minister says that the NHS is under pressure for a variety of reasons, including Covid and normal winter demands.

Mr Swinney also says any decision to reduce the self-isolation period will be based on evidence.

He said: “We’ve got to come to a conclusion about whether or not there is a clinical argument whether or not it is safe for people to take a lesser period of self-isolation.

“We already have such exemptions in place for some health and social care workers and other critical workers where if they are for example in the same household as someone else who has tested positive, provided they have the booster vaccination, provided they’ve got a negative PCR test, provided they’re doing daily lateral flow tests they can return to their work.

Mr Swinney said the NHS is “under pressure” for various reasons. Pic by Kim Cessford / DCT Media

“It’s not a blanket situation in relation to critical workers, what we’ve put in place is that pragmatic set of arrangements that address the needs but also to protect the ability of our system to be assured they are not sharing the virus should they have tested positive.”

Mr Swinney has stressed that the Scottish Government has invested significantly in the NHS over a number of years, while taking steps to try to reduce the GP workload.

However, he says the government is now “wrestling” with the impact of a global pandemic, which is why it needs to make such “tough decisions” to protect the NHS.

Economic difficulties of Covid

The cabinet secretary says that ministers have had discussions with a range of different sectors, including hospitality, sporting authorities, and taxi drivers.

He said: “There’s a lot of economic difficulties being faced by different sectors which is why the Scottish Government has dug deep into our resources to find £200 million to put on the table to provide financial support.

“We welcome the support given the UK Government has given of £75m but we as a government in Scotland do not have the financial flexibility to go further than what we have put on the table.

“It’s a really difficult ask for us to get as far as we have got we do not have the same borrowing powers as the UK Government has.”

It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to give a Covid update on Wednesday afternoon, when the self-isolation period could be addressed.

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