Nicola Sturgeon confident enough testing is happening despite steep drop in numbers

The First Minister said she was not complacent about potential future and current capacity issues.

Tuesday, 8th September 2020, 2:52 pm
Testing capacity was the focus of the Covid-19 briefing again.
Testing capacity was the focus of the Covid-19 briefing again.

Nicola Sturgeon has said testing capacity in labs must also match capacity of the number of tests available to people if Scotland is to keep up with high demand.

Over the weekend people in Scotland were reportedly again told that testing was not available in their local area and were being asked to travel miles to access tests.

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The number of tests undertaken in Scotland on Sunday was just over 12,000, a steep drop from the average levels of around 20,000 for the last few weeks and down from 27,000 on Wednesday 2 September.

Monica Lennon, the Scottish Labour health and social care spokesperson, said the Scottish Government must explain the reason behind the drop in testing and called on the health secretary to reassure the public.

She said:“Test and Protect is Scotland’s plan for preventing the spread of the virus and the Health Secretary herself has said that hunting down COVID-19 via testing is key to its success.

“Worryingly, members of the public have had serious challenges accessing testing and this huge drop in the numbers of tests carried out, at a time when confirmed cases are increasing, will shake public confidence.

“Everyone who needs a test should get one promptly. The Health Secretary must reassure the public that Test and Protect is properly resourced, effective and reliable.”

Speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said she was not complacent about capacity issues around testing but insisted Scotland was testing higher number of people when compared to other parts of the UK and said testing numbers had returned to around the average of 20,000 per day.

Ms Sturgeon said: “You will see test numbers fluctuate day by day, because not entirely because there are different strands to testing, but a large part of our testing is just that, it is demand led.

"You will see a fluctuation in yesterday’s numbers would have reflected the number of tests done on Sunday and we will often also see a bit of a reduction over the weekend when compared to weekdays.

"Over recent days Scotland has proportionately been doing more tests than other parts of the UK. We are testing proportionally way above our population share or have been on certain days above our population share in a UK sense.”

The First Minister added that the decision to work with the UK on testing can lead to issues where demand is higher in areas with fewer tests available.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This is where we are in discussions with the UK Government just to make sure that we don’t find ourselves squeezed for capacity where demand might be higher in other parts of the UK.

"These discussions will continue but for the moment I am of the view that the testing volumes we have done show that we are doing more than our population share but we will continue to keep that under review.”

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