Scotland to use 'full' Covid-19 testing capacity by end of week, health secretary says

Health secretary Jeane Freeman has said she is confident Scotland will be using its full coronavirus testing capacity by the end of the week, carrying out at least 3,500 daily checks.

Health secretary Jeane Freeman said Scotland will be using its full testing capacity by the end of the week.

Although the language used by the Scottish Government has shifted from a target of actual tests carried out to the capacity to carry out at least 3,500 tests, she said she expects them all to be used.

Ms Freeman also told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that mobile testing units will be rolled out this week to allow more key workers to be checked.

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Asked if the Scottish Government's full capacity would be used every day, Ms Freeman said: "We do expect that to be used because we are seeing the capacity increasingly used.

"And we know that - as we move into test, trace, and isolate - that there will be more testing being done."

In an interview with Andrew Marr on Sunday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scotland is on track to hit its capacity target of 3,500 tests daily by the end of April but faces challenges in ensuring these tests are "fully utilised".

On Friday, constitution secretary Mike Russell told Holyrood's newly formed Covid-19 committee: "There is no point having capacity unless you use it.

"So if you have a target, as we have got with the 3,500 tests, you have to use it. There isn't really a distinction. It would seem a fine hair-splitting point.

"If your capacity is 3,500 you want to use 3,500."

Ms Freeman explained that when the pandemic first hit Scotland, there were just two laboratories for testing with a combined capacity of 350 samples a day.

She said: "Now we have gone, in a very short period of time, to 3,500."

This is in addition to the UK government-run drive-through centres across the country and plans to roll out mobile testing units.

The launch of army-run mobile testing units for key workers will begin this week in the Scottish Borders and the Highlands, with all samples being sent for analysis at Glasgow University's Queen Elizabeth campus.

Ms Freeman said: "This is the beginning of that mobilisation. They will be there to allow key worker testing, in particular, but to supplement any other testing that is needed to fit into our NHS labs."