COVID-19 - guidance for secondary care

Publication Date: 31 December 2020



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The disease COVID-19 is caused by a new strain of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that was first identified in Wuhan City, China in December 2019. Symptoms range from mild to moderate illness to pneumonia or severe acute respiratory infection requiring hospital care. COVID-19 was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 12 March 2020.

The first cases in the UK were detected on 31 January 2020, and on 23 March 2020 the UK entered lockdown.

As part of the gradual relaxation of lockdown measures, effective and timely contact tracing is being implemented to allow a sustained reduction in new cases, outbreaks and to reduce transmission. In Scotland, this is being achieved through a programme of community testing, contact tracing and isolation, (promoted as ‘Test and Protect’ to the public). Contact tracing is being undertaken for cases confirmed by a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

Further details can be found on the Scottish Government website and NHS Inform.

Workforce education information and resources​

Obtaining an upper respiratory tract diagnostic sample

HPS, with support from stakeholders, has produced a short video clip to support colleagues required to obtain an upper respiratory tract diagnostic sample.

This resource describes the techniques involved in obtaining an upper respiratory tract COVID-19 diagnostic sample​ and covers the:

  • options available in relation to COVID-19-Upper respiratory tract samples
  • technique involved in obtaining a nose swab
  • technique involved in obtaining a throat swab

Resource information

Public Health Scotland
Publication type:
Guideline and Guidance


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