The number of children being tested for possible Covid-19 jumped eight-fold last week compared to figures in the middle of July, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said a total of 17,500 children, aged two to 17, were tested last week alone, with just 49 testing positive for the virus.
Ms Sturgeon said the positivity rate of 0.3 per cent should provide “assurance” to parents with the figures “encouraging” for the case of having children back in school full time.
The increase in numbers also showed an increase of more than 300 per cent of young people being tested from the week before last to last week, with just two positive cases recorded.
It follows concerns last weekend that testing capacity in Scotland was being overwhelmed by parents booking tests for children with coughs and sniffles since they have returned to school.
The Scottish Government also blamed technical issues for instances where individuals were being directed to test centres hundreds of miles away or in England.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Yes, we have had clusters of cases in some communities involving young people – but I think these figures reveal the bigger picture.
“I think that is encouraging and I hope is reassuring to parents and teachers across the country. I hope it will encourage you to absolutely continue to be vigilant, we all have to be vigilant right now but not to be unduly concerned about young people in schools.”
The First Minister added that parents should only book a test if a child reported new symptoms related to Covid, and not just standard cold symptoms such as a runny nose.
She said: “And while it is understandable that people, parents in particular, want to err on the side of caution, it is also important to remember the symptoms of Covid that trigger the need for a test. These are any one of a new persistent cough, a fever, or a loss of or change in sense of taste or smell.
“Other symptoms - like a runny nose - if they are not accompanied by one of the Covid symptoms, should not lead to a test.
“I hope the data I’ve just reported provides some additional assurance as the school term continues. We will of course continue to closely monitor these results over the coming weeks and if there are any changes that I need to bring to your attention, please be assured that I will do that but I thought it was important to give you an insight into this information today.”