In the run up to Christmas Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has called for the Scottish Government to mail lateral flow tests to every household in Scotland and encourage everyone to take a test and register the results.
His call follows a similar model deployed in Slovakia which saw 3.6 million people tested for coronavirus over the weekend of 31 October and 1 November 2020 – 97% of the eligible population of people aged 10-65. This mass testing identified 38,000 new cases in two days and a review in the British Medical Journal concluded that it had contributed to a reduction in the prevalence of detected covid infections by 58%.
In November 2020, Willie Rennie asked the First Minister for a similar scheme to take place in Scotland but this was dismissed because Slovakia used lateral flow tests, not PCR tests. However Health Secretary Humza Yousaf did subsequently agree to Scottish Liberal Democrat demands to send lateral flow tests to all of those attending the Glasgow fanzone during last summer’s European Championship.
The First Minister has now declared that the Scottish public should be testing with lateral flow tests before all social interactions.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said:
“The First Minister says she wants everyone to take a test when they are socialising. A good way to get people into the habit would be to send tests to every household.
"A year ago, the First Minister was dismissive of Lib Dem proposals to test students and dismissive of proposals to test those arriving in Scottish airports. It is now clear that this was a mistake and these failures allowed the virus to gain a new foothold.
“The pandemic has shown that the people of Scotland will always look out for one another. If the government were to announce a national covid census, I’m sure they would do their duty, take a test and return the results.
“This wouldn’t be that hard to undertake, census taking has moved on since the days of the nativity and it’s been tried successfully elsewhere in the world. I’m not going to claim this would catch every case in the country but we have seen from other countries that it would allow us to catch and break many chains of infection and keep one another safe over the Christmas break.
“We should be looking to be just as ambitious with our plans for testing as we are with our targets for booster vaccines. I hope the First Minister will take these suggestions on board and launch Scotland’s first national Covid census this Christmas.”