Contact tracing trialled at three health boards

A pilot has been launched this week to test contact tracing technology at three health boards.

The software will be tested in NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Highland.

The pilot is expected to last two weeks, with the expected roll-out to all health boards by the end of May.

The technology is different from that chosen by NHSX in England, the Scottish government has opted for a system of alerting people by a telephone call initially, rather than using an app.

This is the first step in moving towards an extended test, trace, isolate and support (TTIS) approach which will be used to keep transmission in communities low. The strategy is a public health intervention programme to identify cases of COVID-19 and then find people they have been in close contact with. Contact tracers are being recruited and will use the software to collect the information.

Jeane Freeman, Health Secretary said “Technology will be an important tool to help us move towards the test, trace, isolate and support approach and safely exit lockdown.

“The software we are developing in Scotland is built on a tried and trusted platform and will allow us to carry out contact tracing on a much larger scale than has been necessary until now. It will also focus on supporting public health teams identify outbreaks and reduce transmission in high risk groups and settings by making it easier for staff to collect and record information.

“The test, trace, isolate and support approach is about breaking the chain of transmission of the virus but it remains vital that alongside this people continue to follow physical distancing advice and practise good hand and cough hygiene.”