SCOTTISH Labour have called for asymptomatic testing to play a key role in Nicola Sturgeon’s blueprint to ease the lockdown.

The First Minister will announce her strategy for easing the lockdown and restrictions to MSPs on Tuesday afternoon.

Ahead of Ms Sturgeon setting out her strategy, Labour has called for an improved testing system to play a central role.

The party has called for asymptomatic community testing, contingency plans for a surge and cases and doorstep testing if new mutated variants are discovered.

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Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: "Scottish Labour has long made the case that the route through and out of the pandemic will depend on following international advice and hunting down the virus with testing.

“Infection rates are now being driven down by a combination of lockdown measures and the roll out of the vaccine – but keeping infection rates low will depend on rapidly identifying and containing any outbreaks. That is why we are calling for a renewed emphasis on testing - including asymptomatic community testing on a mass scale.

"The SNP government has so far failed to maximise the use of Scotland’s testing capacity. New announcements on testing of contacts and community testing are welcome - but the roll-out has been far too slow. Weeks after the First Minister announced the government would be expanding testing, there is little urgency about making this a reality on the ground.

“The First Minister and the Health Secretary need to get a grip – testing will be key to helping to control the virus and allowing the economy to open up again.”

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie, has also called for testing to be central to the Scottish Government's approach.

He said: “The First Minister must now provide a clear route map back to normality. The toll of this pandemic on our national mental health and on the physical health of many who have missed out on check-ups and operations has been huge. The loss of education and of incomes has been significant too.

“Given these factors we need to see a clear plan for both allowing activities, perhaps outdoor first, to resume and for our NHS to be equipped to deal with the recovery. We also need to see testing ramped up to squash future outbreaks as soon as they occur, as well as certainty for the many businesses who will dread being plunged back into the opaque tiers system."

“The people of Scotland must know how to slowly return to normality without the fear of damaging the progress made so far.”