Covid Scotland: Test and Protect fails to contact quarter of cases within three days

Scotland has fallen short of the World Heath Organisation target of contacting 80 per cent of people who test positive for covid and identifying close contacts within 72 hours, new data has shown.

A man hands over a completed COVID-19 test to a member of staff at a testing centre.
A man hands over a completed COVID-19 test to a member of staff at a testing centre.

A report published by Public Health Scotland for the week ending 4 July shows that 26.8 per cent of cases were not contacted in the time frame stipulated by the WHO.

The WHO criteria states that 80 per cent of new cases having close contacts traced and in quarantine within 72 hours of case confirmation. Meanwhile, updated figures for last week – to 27 June – also showed that the target was not hit during that period, with 34.9 per cent of cases not contacted within 72 hours.

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Covid Scotland: 'Test and Protect cannot cope' with surge in cases

The Test and Protect contact tracing system has been under strain since covid cases rocketed in Scotland over the past month.

Last week, parents revealed that they had not been contacted about positive cases in their children’s class after the school term came to a close.

The Covid-19 Statistical Report also showed that in the last week from 26 June to 2 July, the seven-day rolling average of COVID-19 related acute hospital admissions increased from 32.71 to 46.86 admissions per day.

A total of five out of every 100,000 vaccinated individuals were admitted to hospital in the past week and had a positive PCR test 14 days prior, on admission, or during

their stay in hospital, compared to 13 out of every 100,000 unvaccinated individuals.

Meanwhile, in the last four weeks, 55.4 per cent of covid-related acute hospital admissions were in unvaccinated individuals, of which 71.3 per cent were in the under 40s age group.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Test and Protect system has continued to operate well as case numbers have increased in recent weeks. Given rising case numbers, the system has been contacting unprecedented numbers of people.

“As we announced last week, we are using a variety of methods to contact people, including using digital methods like SMS messages for lower risk cases and prioritising calls for higher risk cases. These changes will ensure that people are contact traced, and begin isolation, as quickly as possible.

“The majority of people comply when asked to self-isolate and we are thankful for the important role they are continue to play in stopping transmission of COVID-19, the latest evidence form research suggest 74 per cent of community based positive cases and their close contacts isolated entirely in line with the self-isolation guidance.”

He added: “We will have to manage living with COVID-19 for some time to come, even when we are able to move beyond Level 0. While we hope we are in the process of emerging from the pandemic, case rates at the moment underline the fact that this virus is still with us and we will consider all the evidence when the review the easing of restrictions.”

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