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Covid-19 Update

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of Jeane Freeman Jeane Freeman Scottish National Party

I mentioned social distancing in my statement. Generally speaking, the scientific advice is that we are at greater risk of contracting the disease following face-to-face contact within a distance of 2m for up to 15 minutes. The risk comes through the droplets that are expelled if someone sneezes or coughs. As such, it is not particularly circulated in the air around us and we would not contract it if we passed someone in the street or in a shop.

We can, however, contract it from surfaces, which is why regular hand washing is important. That is, by and large, what I said earlier about case definition and about how coronavirus is spread. Therefore, as I have said many times already, those simple personal steps are important.

On contact tracing, an individual who has tested positive is asked to take the local health protection team through everything that they have done. For example, they take the team through their travel history and everything that they have done from the point at which they were in a designated coronavirus area—that is, one of the areas in northern Italy or other places in Europe, or in a country such as Iran, South Korea and, indeed, China. They go through the means by which they travelled and with whom they were in close contact, such as family members or work colleagues—it depends on each individual case.

All those individuals are then traced, clinically assessed as to their own state of health and—if necessary—tested; close contacts in particular are tested. That is what contact tracing involves and, obviously, the more cases we see, the greater the burden of contact tracing on local health protection teams. As such, that is another area where we are asking people to assess whether additional resource is needed for that work to be undertaken, should the number of cases significantly increase.