Scotland should have localised 'traffic light' system for coronavirus management and mass random community testing if it is to properly handle a second wave, an influential think tank has warned.

The 'colour coded' scheme is being suggested as Scotland's test and protect system was described as "far too centralised" by Common Weal as the nation faces a second wave of Covid.

It was felt the move would create a consistent means of measuring and responding to the risk of Covid outbreaks to be applied at the "most local" possible level and help prevent larger scale lockdowns.

Common Weal said that the countries with the most effective virus control systems have decentralised their approach and have enabled local areas to act "independent, immediately and responsively and Scotland should follow suit".

The aim of the proposal is that in the "shortest possible time we get to a position in Scotland where the greatest number of people are able to live as normally as possible "for the greatest proportion of the time" until a Covid-19 vaccine is developed and successfully deployed.

The analysis comes as Nicola Sturgeon confirmed yesterday that there were three deaths overnight while 176 had tested positive for the virus over 24 hours.

Craig Dalzell, head of policy and research at Common Weal, and report author said: "Whilst Scotland is in a relative lull compared to the last Covid spike, the fact that cases have been rising again should be an alarming sign that the current strategy is not eliminating the virus.

"Scotland must, with urgency, move to a system informed by the best practices found in those countries which have most successfully defended themselves during the pandemic.

"This also means designing a consistent approach that is easily understood by people in Scotland so that everyone knows, well ahead of time, the implications for themselves and their local area should the level of infection cause them to move up or down the response scale."

HeraldScotland: Coronavirus testing

The traffic light system was designed so that there is "consistency" in response rather than a 'tailor-made' response to each outbreak being imposed centrally.

Different local areas would be designated red, amber, green or white based on volume of incidences and there would then be a menu of different policy approaches appropriate to each.

It says that the scheme can be run by local authorities but needs to be brought down to local community level to succeed.

A traffic light system already exists to classify countries as safe or otherwise, depending on the prevalence of coronavirus.

Countries are eighter graded green, meaning they are safer than the UK; amber, meaning they are less safe than green countries; or red, which will result in any passengers returning from them still needing to isolate for a fortnight.

Many countries such as Czech Republic, France and Mexico have built their Covid strategy on a regional traffic light system of escalating warning lights.

They range from virus-free white zones, through low level 'green' to moderate level 'amber' and dangerous 'red'. There are also 'null' zones where lack of testing currently means that there is insufficient information to rank a particular zone.

It also said that Scotland needs to roll out random sample testing "regardless of symptoms", saying that a random sample test has been co-ordinated in England for several months but no such programme exists in Scotland.

The English system was expanded to cover 400,000 samples per week which, if proportionately replicated in Scotland, would allow a "minimum ambition" of randomly-sampled testing of around 1,200 people in every local authority in Scotland.

Common Weal director Robin McAlpine added: “Scotland is falling behind good practice because months into this crisis we have still not developed a system of mass, randomised community testing. There is now widespread understanding that community-level prevention is crucial and Scotland's highly-centralised, top-down system simply isn't capable of keeping the maximum number of people out of lockdown measures for the maximum amount of time.”

On Friday, the European Commission proposed a common traffic light system for EU member states to coordinate border controls and remedy the current, confusing patchwork of coronavirus restrictions on travelers across Europe.

It said it was responding to demands from the European Union’s 27 countries, who will have to approve the proposal, and from citizens facing long border queues or perplexed about where and under what conditions they can take trips.

Under the proposal, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control would produce a weekly map with every region or country colored green, orange or red.

The Commission is advising that no restrictions be set for travelers from green or orange zones, though visitors from the latter might be recommended to take a COVID-19 test.

Restrictions, whether a quarantine or a test, would be appropriate for those coming from red zones, although the measures should be the same for all red zones, whether inside or outside the country.

Countries would be free to determine what measures to take.

The color coding is based on two criteria - no restrictions for people from areas with 50 or fewer COVID-19 infections per 100,000 people in 14 days, or where the percentage of positive tests is below 3%, unless the number of cases exceeds 150.

Red zones denote regions or countries with over 150 cases per 100,000 or over 50 cases if at least 3% of COVID-19 tests are positive.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We are constantly considering options which could help keep the virus suppressed while allowing peoples’ lives to return to as close to normal as is possible, including extending community testing. We are working closely and at pace with the UK Government and others to ensure we implement suitable options as soon as we are assured they are effective and practicable.”