Covid-19 testing at lowest rate in Scotland since lockdown

The number of coronavirus tests carried out in Scotland hit a new low yesterday, figures have revealed.

Covid 19 testing centre at Edinburgh airport
Covid 19 testing centre at Edinburgh airport

A total of 2,729 tests took place – 42 per cent fewer than the previous Sunday, despite capacity for 15,000 per day in Scotland.

At the end of April Nicola Sturgeon said the government was expanding testing capacity at pace, and wanted to carrying out 10,000 a day.

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However the latest statistics show th number of tests for Covid-19 fell from 5,472 last Thursday to 4,325 on Friday, 3,229 on Saturday and just 2,729 on Sunday, less than 18 per cent of the country’s capacity.

The last time the number of tests was lower than on Sunday was April 27, when 2,627 were conducted, and before the government pledge to ramp up testing.

Both the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour have demanded action from the government to increase testing, particularly the introduction of routine testing for NHS staff, however today Ms Sturgeon only said that it was “under consideration”.

Scots Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: “For weeks now the SNP government has been told to carry out more tests to help Scotland beat this virus. But instead, the number has now plummeted to the lowest since this new drive began.

“That’s alarming and points to huge failings on testing at the hands of this SNP government. It was clear weeks ago that the SNP couldn’t just stand and wait for people to come to them, and it had to get out and take these tests to those who need it most.

“That hasn’t happened, and there’s been no explanation as to why. If the SNP doesn’t get its house in order in terms of testing, more people will die and Scotland’s move out of lockdown will be put in jeopardy.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the government was endangering the success of the easing of lockdown by failing to meet testing targets. He added: “Scotland is lagging far behind other nations in expanding testing, many of which have recorded fewer deaths from the virus. It is clear that the central role of testing in our strategy for defeating the virus should never have been abandoned.

“Even as the Scottish Government begins to ease the lockdown, testing remains far too low, with less than half the number of tests intended actually carried out.

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“As we ease lockdown we risk endangering lives through a combination of looser restrictions and little testing. If we are to introduce the "Test, Trace and Isolate" approach that we badly need testing must be expanded dramatically.”

Cancer Research UK has also raised concerns about cancer staff being routinely tested, as one way of ensuring services could reopen for patients. The charity suggested 3000 tests a day could be needed.

Scottish Green health spokesperson Alison Johnstone agreed, and sid it was “baffling” why the government hadn’t introduced regular tests for NHS and care workers “when we know that coronavirus is being spread in our hospitals and care homes.”

She added: “Given the pressure this virus has put on cancer services and how vulnerable cancer patients are, this must be an urgent priority.”

However at her daily briefing today, when asked about Cancer Research UK’s calls for increased testing, Ms Sturgeon said she had not seen their demand, and added: “Our approach to testing remians driven by clinical advice, and questions around routine testing are issues under consideration.”

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