Earlier this month the Scottish Government published COVID-19 – Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS) which outlined Scotland’s approach to contact tracing in the context of COVID-19. In line with this document, NHS Dumfries and Galloway together with local resilience partners have worked together to pilot our local approach to TTIS.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “The aim of this approach is to reduce transmission of COVID-19 within our community by tracing people who may have come into contact with someone infected with COVID19 and providing them with appropriate advice and support to prevent these contacts from passing on the disease to others.
“As is outlined in the Scottish Government publication, we need to learn from our experience and this means the approach we take will develop and evolve over the coming days and weeks. We will also modify our approach in line with national systems as they come on stream.”
A considerable amount of testing has been undertaken in Dumfries and Galloway by the NHS Public Health team. Criteria for testing has continued to evolve, with this work now being supported by a mobile testing unit operated by the military. A total of about 4500 tests have been carried out to date.
Tests can now be booked online for anyone aged five and over within a household who displays symptoms of coronavirus. For information, visit the website www.nhsinform.scot/coronavirus
TTIS does mean that those who do test positive for COVID-19 will be asked to self isolate for a period of 7 days (or longer if they remain unwell). In addition, it means that those who are classified as close contacts of positive cases will also be asked to self isolate for 14 days. If these contacts later start to develop symptoms, the process will begin again with regard to their close contacts.
For the purposes of contact tracing, a close contact is someone who has been physically close enough to a confirmed case for a long enough period of time that they may have had the infection transmitted to them. For COVID-19, this includes everyone who has been less than 2 meters away from a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more. The risk of the disease being transmitted is higher the closer the contact, the greater the exposure to respiratory droplets e.g from coughing, or the longer the duration of the contact.
There are several scenarios in which people could be exposed to COVID-19. Each situation needs to be carefully reviewed and risk assessed according to the risk of transmission, which is not the same in all scenarios – i.e. where appropriate PPE has been used.
It may be difficult for some individuals to self-isolate at home for a period of 14 days if they do not have friends or family nearby to help them. In these circumstances, community support will be provided to ensure that they receive any assistance they require and are able to continue to self-isolate. A network of community support and resilience teams across the region have been responding to the needs of individuals in their local communities who are self-isolating to make sure they receive support during this time.
COVID-19 is an extremely complex virus and we thank you in advance for your support and patience with the TTIS programme.
Anyone who lives in Dumfries and Galloway and is notified of positive test result through the mobile testing programme should contact 01387 241350 for further information and guidance in relation to Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (TTIS). Currently the TTIS service will be open 7 days a week, Monday to Friday, 8:30 to 16:30, and both Saturday and Sunday, 10:00 to 15:00.