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On-demand Covid-19 coronavirus tests to be made available to Scotland's key workers, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reveals

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland is “ready to go live” with coronavirus testing on-demand for key workers, after a similar announcement was made for England yesterday.

UK health minister Matt Hancock promised that from today key workers would be able to sign themselves up for a Covid-19 test or alternatively their employers could do so.

Ms Sturgeon has now confirmed that Scotland is set to launch its own system though there will be a delay after the appointments system crashed under the overwhelming demand south of the border.

She said: “We are ready to go live in Scotland today with the system that the UK government announced yesterday.

"I understand, and it's perhaps not surprising, that given the scale of the demand the digital portal has had some technical difficulties this morning and it is currently not operating as it tries to process the demand.

“But we are ready to go live, we are ready to issue guidance about the categories of critical workers that will be able to access testing in this way and guidance to employees about exactly how they can access it.

"Health and social care workers in Scotland will continue to be given access to testing in the normal way through health boards as right now.

“The second group will be essential workers in critical national infrastructure which is fundamental for safety and security and lifeline services.

"There will be a third group directly involved in delivering other essential services and a fourth priority group of staff involved in volunteering or nationally or locally significant industry that's important to the economy.

“So we'll be sending out some more guidance on who's included in that and how employers and employees can access that, but we will wait until the system itself has stabilised and the current technical difficulties that it is experiencing have been resolved.

“In terms of where that fits into the overall approach to testing, this fits in in addition to the processes and systems around testing that are currently operating in Scotland.

"We have got the target of 3500 capacity of tests by the end of this month and we are working to make sure we are using that full capacity.

It was revealed this week that a new appointment-only testing centre is being built at Inverness Campus, dedicated to key workers.

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