Contact tracing technology designed to slow the spread of Covid-19 and end the lockdown in Scotland will be trialled across three health boards from today (18th May).
The software will be tested in NHS Fife, NHS Lanarkshire, and NHS Highland areas to test the viability of the technology for future use across Scotland.
Contact tracers will use the app to collect digital information, building on existing contact tracing technology in place across the NHS, and allowing health boards to trace more contacts faster.
The roll-out is the first stage of a move towards an extended test, trace, isolate and support approach, which will be used to keep the transmission in communities low as the country moves out of lockdown.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman commented: “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 to 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.”
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The programme comes as more than 14,000 cases were reported across Scotland, with more than 2,000 recorded deaths.
Freeman said that more than 600 additional workers from the NHS are ready to begin contact tracing, as well as recruiting a further 2000 staff.
The three chosen health boards are just the beginning, with the government intending to release the software to all health boards by the end of May and then further enhanced during June.
Contact tracing apps are proving to be increasingly popular, with many experts claiming it is the best way to ease lockdown. A tracing app trialled on the Isle of Wight has been used a record number of times, according to Sky News, with figures showing that 65% of people who were able to download the app have done so.
Speaking to Sky News, Conservative MP Bob Seely said the app’s success exceeded all expectations: “We are well ahead of what we hoped. When the figure goes above 20% you begin to get good evidence, over 50% and you start suppressing the virus and over 60% and you get the benefits of the app working.”