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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

The case definition of the virus is: a cough, fatigue and difficulty in breathing. If people who have those systems have a travel history from the areas currently affected, be that in Europe or elsewhere—again, that information is available on the NHS inform website—using the NHS 111 number will take them through some clinically appropriate questions, then produce bespoke advice about what that individual should do.

As members will know, we have a range of different testing methods across our boards that are designed to prevent the spread of infection, which can be accessed in a designated area in a health board; in the drive-through testing that members might have seen in Lothian, which is also appearing in other parts of the country; or in community testing, whereby the testers will come to an individual.

Those are the symptoms and that is what people with them should do. They are not, strictly speaking, flu symptoms, although they are comparable. The best thing for people to do if they are concerned about their symptoms is to use the NHS inform website or the 111 number to check and get reassurance, or to get advice about additional actions, if they are required.

On the role of GPs, work is under way across the primary care sector with GPs, primary care teams, dentists, community pharmacy and optometry in the community for them to understand and engage in the work that we need them to do in providing advice to individuals, ensuring that they have the supplies that they need for their own staff and others and helping us with the elements, which I described, of containing, delaying and mitigating.

Unpaid carers and those in our community who are more vulnerable, in either health terms or other terms, are a particular concern to us. Where that issue relates to employment, my colleague Ms Hyslop has work under way, as I said. Equally, my colleague Ms Campbell is looking with us at what more we can do for those in our community who are vulnerable, in terms of not only their health but possibly their location.

On the unpaid carers who might be concerned about what happens to the person who they care for if they become unwell, that will be part of the response that I will be discussing in more detail with COSLA tomorrow.