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Chamber and committees

Question ref. S6W-00756
Asked by: Katy Clark, West Scotland, Scottish Labour
Date lodged: 15 June 2021


To ask the Scottish Government upon which scientific evidence it has based its decision to restrict travellers arriving from green and amber list countries to purchasing NHS test kits.

Current status: Answered by Maree Todd on 29 June 2021


Travellers arriving into Scotland from green and amber list countries must use the NHS tests, which can be booked through the UK Government’s booking portal for international travel. These kits are home test PCR kits provided by NHS Test & Trace.

Travellers arriving into England from green and amber list countries are allowed to book private sector tests.

To date, there are concerns with the flow of data from private sector providers into Public Health England/Public Health Scotland to help with contact tracing and to identify Variants of Concern (VoCs). The UK Government has recently introduced key performance indicators (KPIs) for private providers to meet and is increasing the requirements on such providers to try to address these problems in England.

There are risks associated with the use of private sector tests. In particular, there have been concerns with the data flow from private laboratories into relevant contact tracing systems on either side of the border. There have been examples of it taking 30 days for positive test results to be transferred, making it impossible for contact tracing to be undertaken to interrupt chains of transmission.

We are currently exploring options to allow the use of private sector tests, provided this can be done safely and we can be assured that there aren’t any issues with the flow of data from the testing provider to Public Health Scotland regarding test results, as well as the need for positive test results to be analysed for evidence of any variants of concern. No decision has been made yet on this, however this is under review.