New £120 Covid test not a 'free pass' to avoid virus, warns Nicola Sturgeon

The First Minister has warned against people spending more than £100 on a nasal swab Covid test in a high street pharmacy and directed them to use the NHS testing service instead.

At her daily coronavirus update in St Andrew’s House today, Nicola Sturgeon said the new test being offered by Boots was understandably “exciting new technology”, but she warned it was not a “get-out-of-the-virus-free card”.

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The test, which is for people with no symptoms, is said to give results in just 12 minutes, but costs £120.

The First Minister has urged people to use NHS Covid tests rather than those available on the high street.

Asked about whether she would encourage people to pay to get tested, Ms Sturgeon said: “The advice we give is use testing through the NHS.

"I can’t stop people from spending money on what they want to spend money on – if that’s done legally – but I would encourage people to look at the advice and the strategy within the NHS because that’s what we’re trying to develop in a sensible way and on an equitable basis, rather than people thinking they can spend money, get a test, and it’s a get-out-of-the-virus-free card. That’s not the case.”

She added: “We are very keen to deploy new technology that allows for quicker testing and testing to be done closer to the person as far as we possibly can. We’re keen to use any developments within the NHS because we don’t want a situation where you can only access a certain test if you are able to pay for it.

"We want testing which is reliable and we think contributes to the overall battle against Covid to be available through the NHS.”

The First Minister said that while people should be “enthusiastic” about new “exciting technology”, it was “important we don’t overstate certain things”.

“A rapid test done one day that shows a negative does not mean you’ll be negative the next day, because of the incubation period of the virus,” she said.

“It doesn’t mean you can buy a test in Boots, test negative and then not abide by the guidance – it’s not that straightforward.”

Ms Sturgeon meanwhile said more details of the tier system, which is due to begin on November 2, will be announced ahead of a debate in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

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