Contact tracing is a process for identifying people at risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection because they‘ve been physically close enough to a person who has tested positive. These people will be given advice to help reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
Contact tracing isn't new – it’s been used for many years worldwide for a range of infectious diseases.
Test and Protect
Test and Protect is a public health measure designed to interrupt the spread of coronavirus in the community by:
identifying people who have the virus
tracing those who have been in close contact with an infected person for a long enough period of time to be at risk of infection
supporting these close contacts to self-isolate, so that if they have the virus they are less likely to transmit it to others
Breaking the chains of transmission in the community will stop the virus spreading. This will allow us to gradually change the restrictions that help to suppress the virus.
All close contacts must isolate for 10 days, whether their test result is positive or negative. As a close contact you cannot leave self-isolation if your test comes back negative. A test provides a point in time assessment of whether someone had the infection when the test was taken. It cannot indicate whether someone is incubating the disease, and therefore may go on to develop it after a test is taken. It’s for this reason that close contacts must complete the required 10 days of self-isolation.
Even if you’ve had your vaccine, you must still isolate if you’re asked to by a contact tracer. It is not known whether having the vaccine stops you from spreading the virus to others.
If you are considered to be at risk, you will be contacted by phone or text message. You will not be told the identity of the infected person unless they have given permission for their name to be shared.
Contact tracers may sometimes ask contacts of close contacts to isolate and book a test. This helps to prevent further spread of the virus. If you’re identified as a contact of a close contact, you should follow this advice, even if you’ve had your vaccine.
To make contact tracing as easy as possible:
contact tracers can phone you back at a better time if you’re unable to talk
interpreters can be arranged if you don’t speak or understand English
the British Sign Language video relay service is available
you might want to find a quiet place to talk and have a pen and paper handy in case you need to write anything down
If you see a call from the national number 0800 030 8012, please don’t ignore it. Pick up the phone and help stop the infection spreading.
The contact tracer service operates between 8.00am and 8.00pm, 7 days a week.
Real or a scam?
NHS Scotland contact tracers will:
in some cases, send a text to let you know that you will be receiving a call from NHS Scotland (if mobile is available)
call from a single, national telephone number – 0800 030 8012
always introduce themselves, tell you why they are contacting you and address you by your name
give you the option to call back the above number to provide reassurance that the service is legitimate
They will never ask you:
for information other than your movements and the people you have been physically close to
to phone a premium rate number
to make a purchase, payment or donation
for your medical history unrelated to coronavirus
for your bank details
for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
for your passwords or PIN numbers, or to set up any
for control of your computer, smartphone or tablet, or to download anything
to visit a website that does not belong to NHS Scotland or the Scottish Government
When and how long to self-isolate due to coronavirus
Use this guide to find out if you need to self-isolate and for how long. It also gives advice on what your household and extended household should do.
If your test results or symptoms change, you must this guide again to reassess how long you need to isolate for.
Phone NHS 24 (111) if your symptoms are severe at the start or worsen during isolation. Phone 999 if you have a medical emergency. Tell them you are a contact of a person confirmed as having coronavirus when phoning.
Get an isolation note to give to your employer
You can send an isolation note to your employer as proof you need to stay off work because you’ve been told you're a close contact and need to isolate.