Scottish Government approval for once-weekly COVID-19 testing

The Joint Response Group is pleased to have received written confirmation from Scottish Government that elite clubs will be able to reduce testing protocols to one round of testing per week from week beginning Monday, 13 July.

The update follows extensive documentation issued to Scottish Government regarding the Return to Training and Return to Matches protocols for professional football, information based on best practice as determined by medical colleagues around the world and from the medical sub-group of the JRG.

These documents detailed the COVID-19 specific protocols to create a bio-secure training and match environment together with extensive health screening and twice-weekly testing.

The change to once-weekly testing in elite football in Scotland from week beginning Monday, 13 July was based on the following:

  1. Scottish Government Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic in Scotland (Issue No.7). This document confirms the downward trend in numbers of new infections, hospital and ICU use, deaths and the number of people in Scotland who could be infectious. The document confirms that “these numbers have fallen significantly in the last week”. The document estimates that these numbers have been declining by around 30% each week and will continue to decline at a similar rate over the next two weeks.
  2. Discussions with medical colleagues from Sports Governing Bodies in both England and Scotland who resumed training and playing earlier than in Scotland have confirmed low and decreasing numbers of positive tests in sport.
  3. Alignment with Scottish Rugby, who begin contact training on 13 July and will have a once weekly testing regime in place.
  4. Last week, the 12 Scottish Premiership clubs carried out 936 COVID-19 tests with one positive. Our information from the clubs suggest the players and staff are complying with the screening and hygiene protocols both within the club environment and, importantly, their family and social interactions.

Dr John MacLean, Scottish FA Medical Consultant: “We are pleased that Scottish Government has recognised the effort clubs have made to this point with a thorough testing regime and agree that from week beginning Monday, July 13, testing can be reduced to once-weekly in line with other sports governing bodies and with consideration to the general downward trajectory of the virus in Scotland.

“This news will be warmly received by clubs but we will ensure the stringent safety measures will remain in place.”

The JRG awaits approval from Scottish Government on clubs being able to participate in bounce games and friendly matches prior to the first round of Scottish Premiership fixtures.