PAYMENTS to support people to self-isolate are being expanded, as mass testing gets underway to detect asymptomatic cases in areas of Scotland where virus rates are high.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that the first mass testing site using the rapid lateral flow Covid test will go live in Johnstone in Renfrewshire from Thursday.

The devices can give a test result in as little as 30 minutes, although they are less accurate that the existing laboratory-based checks.

The First Minister said: "All positive cases that are identified through lateral flow can then be confirmed with a PCR test."

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It follows the launch of the first site at Alloa town hall in Clackmannanshire last Thursday, with sites rolled out from today in Dalmarnock and Pollokshields in Glasgow along with Stewarton in East Ayrshire and Girvan in South Ayrshire.

Sites will remain open to the public for three to 13 days depending on their location.

The aim is to pick up cases in people who are not showing any symptoms of infection, who are nonetheless still able to pass the virus on.

Ms Sturgeon said: "If you live in one of these areas, I would encourage you to come forward for testing.

"You give yourself a chance of finding out if you have the virus when you don't yet have symptoms, but you are also helping that collective effort to break the chains of transmission."

Ms Sturgeon said that anyone testing negative, however, should not drop other precautions such as social distancing and wearing face coverings in enclosed spaces.

She said: "The lessons that we learn from these trials will then inform our plans to expand community testing much more intensively and much more routinely in the new year.

"Any test will only tell you that you are positive at that point in time - they will not necessarily pick it up if you are still incubating the virus."

The First Minister announced changes to the Self-isolation Support Grant scheme, which makes payments of £500 given to people on low incomes to help them to self-isolate.

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It is currently available to individuals in receipt of universal credit who are themselves required to self-isolate.

From next week, it will be expanded to include parents who are unable to work because their child is self-isolating from school or nursery, and to individuals who are not currently on universal credit but whose local authority believes they would qualify if they applied.

"That change will help more people to get the grant as quickly as possible, and hopefully reduce the chances of people missing out on it. 

"These extensions to self-isolation support are important because self-isolation is so important. 

"If you have symptoms of Covid you should self-isolate immediately, and take steps to get tested. If the test shows that you have Covid, you should self-isolate for 10 days from the date of the test. 

"If you are a contact of someone with Covid you will be advised to self-isolate for 14 days and you will be told by Test and Protect what the starting point is for that time period."

The First Minister added that self-isolation could be "particularly tough on people on low incomes" because they might not be able to work from home or be less likely to have access to statutory sick pay. 

"We don't want anyone to feel that they are having to choose between self-isolating and feeding themselves and their family," she added.

"I hope today's expansion of the grant programme will enable more people to do the right thing."