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Extension of antigen testing to all key workers in Scotland


The UK Government announced that testing for the presence of Covid-19 antigens is being made available to essential workers in Scotland who are experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 – a high temperature or new continuous cough - as well as people who live with essential workers and are themselves displaying symptoms.

The Scottish Government has stated that there is broad alignment across the UK, with all governments focusing on workers who are critical to the Covid-19 response and the continuing operation of essential services. This means essential workers can find out whether they have the virus, and we can help them return to work if they test negative. Testing is most effective within 5 days of symptoms developing.

Who can be tested?
The Scottish Government has set out a prioritisation matrix for identifying which key workers should be able to access testing in Scotland.  This divides key workers into four groups.
Priority Group 1: Health and social care workers; staff working in residential institutions and essential roles where service resilience is at risk.

Priority Group 2:  Essential workers in critical national infrastructure fundamental for safety and security, and life-line services.

  • This includes defence personnel, food supply chain and food processing workers, and workers on medicines and pharmaceutical supply, chemicals supply, energy and water supply

Priority Group 3: Staff directly involved in delivering other essential services.

  • This includes, public transport workers, supermarket workers and essential public services.

Priority Group 4: Staff involved in volunteering, or in nationally or locally significant industry important to economic sustainability and growth.

How to arrange a test

Essential workers who are self-isolating will be able to book a test directly using a Government portal.  Tests will be available at regional drive-through test sites.  Alternatively, they may order a home test kit.  A delivery service for home testing kits has been designed with key industry partners, including Royal Mail and Amazon. The availability of home test kits will initially be limited but will increase over time.

Essential workers using the new portal can enter their details and will then receive a text or email the same day inviting them to either book an appointment at one of the 4 drive-through testing sites across the country or receive a home testing kit.  Test results from the drive-through sites will be sent out by text within 48 hours, and within 72 hours of collection of the home delivery tests.
Employers of essential workers may, with immediate effect, use the new employer referral portal to refer essential workers who are self-isolating either because they or member(s) of their household have coronavirus symptoms, for testing.  It is a secure portal for employers to use to upload the full list of names and contact details of self-isolating essential workers.
If referred through this portal, essential workers will receive a text message with a unique invitation code to book a test for themselves (if symptomatic) or their symptomatic household member(s) at a regional testing site.

In order to obtain a login, employers of key workers should email with two email addresses that will primarily be used to load key worker contact details. Once employer details have been verified, two login credentials will be issued for the employer referral portal
Employers should then login at to make referrals.

What type of test is being offered?
The test is a Polymerised Chain Reaction (PCR) test whose purpose is to detect Covid-19 antigens.  This will indicate whether a person is infected with Covid-19.  The test involves taking a swab of the nose and the back of the throat, which can be done by the person themselves (self-administered) or by someone else (assisted).

Chamber action
It will be noted that only persons who display symptoms associated with Covid-19 will be eligible for a test under the Government’s scheme.  The Chamber is exploring avenues for wider availability of testing for seafarers as a matter of urgency, mindful of reports that as many as 50% of persons who carry the virus are asymptomatic.  The Chamber will publish further information on this as it becomes available, including for any similar schemes in Wales and Northern Ireland.

Members are invited to inform the Chamber of any feedback they may have in regards to getting key workers tested.