Covid Scotland: Test and Protect 'coping well', Nicola Sturgeon says amid concern over case backlog

Test and Protect is “coping well” with a recent surge in Covid-19 cases, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.

The system has been criticised by opposition parties as figures show the speed of tracing has reduced, with the proportion of cases closed within 24 hours halving from 80 per cent in early April to 40 per cent in June.

Labour’s Jackie Baillie labelled the system a “shambles” on Thursday, after national clinical director Jason Leitch admitted delays in tracing could lead to greater virus spread.

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In response to Ms Baillie’s comments, Ms Sturgeon told a Covid briefing on Friday the system was still meeting World Health Organisation (WHO) targets.

Lateral flow Covid testing. Picture: PA MediaLateral flow Covid testing. Picture: PA Media
Lateral flow Covid testing. Picture: PA Media

“Test and Protect is under pressure, but it’s coping well,” she said.

“It’s still meeting the WHO target of 80 per cent of cases dealt with, contact tracing done and in quarantine within 72 hours.”

But the First Minister said the “pressure is there” on the system.

Professor Leitch asked the public to help contact tracers where possible, by downloading the Protect Scotland app and filling out forms identifying close contacts.

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Ms Baillie said the First Minister’s comments did not provide “sufficient reassurance” about Test and Protect.

"There is a backlog of thousands of cases and reducing the number of people contacted will lead to the increased spread of the virus,” she said.

"Suspending testing for travellers risks importing new strains of the virus from abroad, particularly as international travel ramps up again.

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“The government must give Test and Protect the resources it needs to deliver its vital role and help keep us all safe.”

It comes as the Scottish Government announced an extra £380 million in funding to health boards for costs related to the pandemic.

This includes £90.3m for Test and Protect, as well as £76.8m for the flu and booster vaccine campaign in autumn, and £85.5m for personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “Although we are hopefully emerging from this pandemic, coronavirus continues to add significant pressures to our health and care services.

"We will continue to assess the impact of Covid-19 and provide health and care services with the support they require. The remobilisation of the NHS is among our top priorities.”

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