Coronavirus testing expanded to Scots with flu-like symptoms

Health officials in Scotland are to begin testing some people with flu-like symptoms for coronavirus, even if they have not visited affected areas.

The stepping up of the testing regime has been described as a precautionary measure, but it is thought it could help detection if there is an outbreak in Scotland.

Hospitals and GP surgeries will now begin testing some patients suffering from coughs, fevers and shortness of breath – regardless of whether they have travelled to parts of the world hit by Covid-19.

Using existing NHS monitoring measures, a network of 41 GP practices will start sending samples for testing from patients who report such symptoms.

In addition, pneumonia patients in critical care units will also be tested for the virus.

Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said: “Scotland is well-prepared for a significant outbreak of coronavirus but there is currently no treatment or vaccine. Early detection measures will be vital in helping to prevent the spread of the virus in the event of an outbreak.

“Hospitals and GP surgeries will now conduct tests on some patients with coughs, fevers or shortness of breath – regardless of whether they have travelled to a place where the virus is known to be spreading.

“Not everyone with flu will be tested, but this is a sensible step to take as a precautionary measure to give us an early warning of community transmission.

“People have a vital role to play in helping us contain any outbreak by following the latest health and travel advice and following basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.”

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