Prince Charles was tested for COVID-19 for “clinical reasons”, according to a Scottish official, amid confusion about why the royal was able to confirm his “mild symptoms”.
Charles was tested in by the NHS in Aberdeenshire on Monday, having retreated to Balmoral in Scotland with Camilla on Sunday.
His situation has raised questions about the criteria needed to get tested, as many NHS workers are unable to have the same benefit.
Clarence House, which deals with all the communications regarding the Prince of Wales and his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, said the couple is in Scotland, where they met the criteria for testing.
However, the current guidelines for testing in Scotland read: “Generally, you'll only be tested for COVID-19 if you have a serious illness that requires admission to hospital.”
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, would not be drawn on why they were tested, citing patient confidentiality. She sent Charles, who is known as the Duke of Rothesay when he is in Scotland, her best wishes.
But Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer Catherine Calderwood said: “I’ve discussed with the team in NHS Grampian and from the information I’ve been given it’s clear he was tested for clinical reasons, and I’m pleased also that he is well and as with many people who have had this virus he has had a mild illness.”
A government spokesman later confirmed the couple met criteria for testing.
A total of 10,676 Scottish tests have concluded, the Scottish government has said, with 719 of those testing positive. The nation has reported 22 deaths as of Wednesday at 3pm.
Scotland is moving to test key workers more quickly, to avoid potentially unnecessary isolation periods.
However, it may well be that members of the Royal Family come under the category of key workers, although Clarence House has not yet responded to Yahoo News UK’s request for comment.
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New Scottish government guidance, released on Tuesday, shows the nation will prioritise testing for NHS workers and their families, to ensure people are not self-isolating if they haven’t actually contracted coronavirus.
For example, it would stop a nurse whose child was showing symptoms from isolating with the child for a full 14 days, if the child’s test came back negative.
Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for the South of Scotland, tweeted that she wishes Charles a speedy recovery, but added: “Given that his symptoms are said to be mild, like many I wonder how he was tested when many NHS and social care workers cannot get tested.
“My nephew, who has serious asthma and a chest infection was recently refused a test.”
Sturgeon also asked that people don’t use the Highlands and islands as a place to “outrun” coronavirus, but added: “Obviously there are places where people have homes in Scotland and people will choose to go to their homes, but we should all be responsible.”
Health is a devolved issue. In England, officials are “guided by the Chief Medical Officer, and we continue to monitor the situation closely and to work with the WHO and international community”.
CMO guidance is only to test in hospitals.
Boris Johnson has been criticised for not conducting more tests, including by former health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Matt Hancock announced on Monday that the government was “ramping up” checks with a new facility opening up in Milton Keynes. The government has also bought 3.5 million antibody tests so people can see if they have had it and are immune.
Professor Stephen Powis, NHS England’s medical director, said the NHS could start testing hundreds of thousands of people per day for Covid-19 within a matter of weeks.
Charles, who is the heir apparent, is said to be in good spirits and otherwise good health.
He does not appear to have passed the disease onto his wife Camilla, who tested negative.
His last public engagement was 12 March and he has not seen the Queen since that date either.
Charles’ father, the Duke of Edinburgh, was not in Buckingham Palace at the time. The Queen and Charles briefly met after that day’s investitures.
The Queen had already postponed several engagements but left the palace early for Easter Court in Windsor.
Charles and Camilla went to Scotland, where they have a residence in Birkhall, on the Balmoral estate, on Sunday and were tested on Monday.
They are understood to be self-isolating separately.