Why have coronavirus cases spiked in Scotland?

It’s always important to put data into context.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Government's daily briefing

Testing figures submitted by health boards over the weekend tend to be confirmed on Mondays - meaning the totals reported by Nicola Sturgeon on Tuesday can appear to show a spike.

Many people are glued to the daily briefings given by the First Minister for any sign the pandemic is slowing.

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But it is important to understand the official recording of coronavirus is shifting over time to ensure health experts are given the clearest possible picture of how the virus is spreading.

On Wednesday, a new weekly report will be issued for the first time the number of patients who were “presumed” to have the virus.

The daily statistics reavaled by Nicola Sturgeon only include cases where a laboratory has confirmed that the patient died after contracting Covid-19.

The First Minister said on Tuesday that 4,229 people had now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, with part of the rise is due to figures from the weekend only just being confirmed.

She said the number of deaths recorded in past 24 hours is “relatively large” because the National Records of Scotland is moving to recording deaths seven days a week, having recorded just four deaths over the weekend, which she had said would be “artificially low”.

Experts say that sikes or dips in the figures can reflect bottlenecks in the reporting system and not necessarily a change in trends.

Professor Jim Naismith, at the University of Oxford, told the BBC because of “understandable” delays in reporting by NHS trusts, the daily figures included deaths that may have happened up to two weeks ago.


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