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Isolation and testing rule changes announced

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has outlined changes to self-isolation and testing rules.

These include the option to end isolation after seven days, for close contacts to take lateral flow tests instead of isolating, and for those who return a positive lateral flow test to isolate without seeking a PCR confirmation.

The changes will come into effect from midnight, and are as follows:

  • People who have no fever and record two negative lateral flow tests can end isolation after seven days. The tests must be no earlier than day six after testing positive and another at least 24 hours after that.
  • The requirement for household contacts of positive cases to isolate will end and be replaced by the requirement to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days — but only as long as they are fully vaccinated with three doses. Any close contacts who are over 18 years and four months and not fully vaccinated should isolate for ten days and get a PCR test.
  • If you return a positive lateral flow test and you do not have symptoms, you will no longer be required to take a PCR test. Instead, you should isolate and report your result to allow test and protect to begin contact tracing. If you return a positive lateral flow test and have symptoms of COVID, the advice remains to get a PCR test.

Ms Sturgeon confirmed that restrictions on large gatherings, the requirement for distancing between groups of people in public indoor places and for table service in hospitality venues serving alcohol on the premises will remain in force.

She also urged people to limit contact with other households “as far as possible” and when indoors, to a maximum of three households.

“This phase of the pandemic is possibly the most challenging we have faced so far,” she said this afternoon.

“The most infectious variant so far is creating a volume of cases that, notwithstanding its possibly reduced severity, still has the potential to overwhelm us.

“And of course two years in, the kind of measures that have helped us control transmission in past phases are becoming less tolerable and causing more harm.

“So while not easy, we do need to continually adapt our ways of managing this virus, and we will do so.”

The changes comes as Orkney recorded 48 COVID cases over the past 24 hours, according to data published by the Scottish Government.

This brings the county’s total since the pandemic began to 1,530.