The health secretary has insisted changes to isolation rules for people who catch Covid are a “sustainable” measure.
Humza Yousaf says the new rules around self-isolation do not mean “throwing caution to the wind” and the Scottish Government will still have protective measures in place.
Speaking on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Yousaf said: “What we have to look at now, almost two years into this pandemic, is how we control that in a more sustainable way because we understand the long-term harms Covid has not just on people’s health, but on the economy and mental health and many other aspects of society.
“I certainly hope never to see a lockdown again given how greatly damaging it is, there’s certainly no plans for another lockdown.”
Yesterday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Covid self-isolation rules in Scotland can be reduced to seven days if flow results are negative on day six and day seven.
Despite the need for PCR tests to confirm positive lateral flow results also ending, the health secretary believes there will still be a significant number of people coming forward for PCR tests.
Mr Yousaf has urged anyone who gets a positive lateral flow test to register the result online.
He said: “We’re asking the public to help us in this endeavor and the public has been incredible in terms of their compliance throughout a difficult 21 months.
“If you’re not symptomatic and you get a positive result via a lateral flow device, then please do register that online that helps with the contact tracing process which is important.”
Pressure on the NHS
The NHS has been under extreme pressure due to the surge in Covid cases in recent weeks.
Mr Yousaf has claimed that the next few weeks are going to continue to be challenging for the health service, with winter months already being a busier period for staff.
He said: “There’s no way of sugar-coating the fact that these next few weeks will be amongst the most difficult our NHS has ever faced in its 73-year existence.
“We are facing pressures on a number of fronts – the pandemic backlog that has built up over the past 21 months, we have high levels of staff absences, again, much of that or certainly an increase because of Omicron and its higher transmissibility, and, of course, we also are treating over 12,000 people in hospital with Covid.”
He explained that the Scottish Government are committed to doing everything they can to alleviate the burden.
One of the key things is trying to treat people with Covid who have previously been in hospital at home with antivirals and the appropriate support to help with capacity challenges.
The health secretary stressed that the NHS will continue to be there “to assist, to support, to care and to treat you”.