3.4 COVID-19 Notification of positive cases

It is essential that NHS Boards have systems in place to ensure that laboratory confirmed cases of SARS-CoV-2 isolated from patients are reported to Infection Prevention and Control Teams (IPCTs) as promptly as possible to allow any inappropriately placed patients to be identified and isolated. 

Reporting systems should also be in place to alert the relevant teams of any positive staff cases.  There must be a robust and clear process in place for recording and communication of results to staff members.

The Occupational Health Service (OHS) will be key to this process. Staff who have a positive result may require advice, counselling and support.  Staff confidentiality and records of test results must be maintained securely.  It is recognised that staff in some organisations such as Scottish Ambulance Service, do not fall under the remit of OHS but will be captured under the test and protect service. 

COVID-19 is a notifiable disease and as such, directors of diagnostic laboratories must inform their health board, the common services agency and Public Health Scotland of all COVID-19 isolates.  This is a requirement of the Public Health etc (Scotland) Act 2008 and notification of infectious disease or health risk forms are available.

3.4.1 Communicating results

On confirmation of a positive COVID-19 patient isolate, the ward staff should be informed by the reporting laboratory or IPCT if the patient is still an inpatient. There must be agreed processes in place for communicating results and IPC advice out of hours when IPCTs are not available.

IPCTs should agree local notification process for any patients who have been discharged home since the COVID-19 test was undertaken to ensure that the patient is contacted at home and provided with the appropriate self-isolation advice.

There should be processes in place to ensure that IPCTs and OHS share intelligence which may indicate an outbreak is occurring in a specific ward/department.

3.4.2 Communication with other care facilities and NHS boards

Where a confirmed case or an identified contact has been transferred to another care facility (care home, hospice, mental health facility), the facility must be notified as soon as possible to make them aware of the positive COVID-19 result or COVID-19 exposure to ensure that the appropriate control measures can be implemented.  There should be a local agreement in place to determine whether clinical teams or IPCTs will notify the facility and HPTs where required.  Local agreements should include reporting arrangements out of hours.

If a confirmed case or an identified contact has been transferred to another NHS board,
the receiving NHS board must be notified by the IPCT or clinical team and alert them to the positive COVID-19 status or exposure to ensure the appropriate control measures are implemented as per the Scottish COVID-19 IPC addendum.

Similarly, if a confirmed case has transferred from another board within 48 hours of symptom onset or positive test, the IPCT must inform the NHS board from which the patient transferred to allow risk assessment to be undertaken and contacts to be identified.

3.4.3 Surveillance

Active surveillance should be undertaken by IPCTs to allow outbreaks to be detected at the earliest possible opportunity.