Scots testing levels lower than in England, research shows

Coronavirus testing levels in Scotland remain “too limited and underutilised”, it has been claimed, after new analysis indicates it is 20 per cent lower than England since the start of the pandemic.

Research by the Liberal Democrats showed that 539 people per 1,000 have been tested south of the Border - compared with 445 per 1,000 in Scotland.

It has been announced that a new "megalab" will open in Scotland next year to enhance testing capacity across the UK as part of the fight against the virus.

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The Lib Dems say the number of tests per capita in Scotland is lower than elsewhere in the UK. Picture: JPI Media

There have been 30.3 million tests conducted south of the Border on a population of 56.3 million, the Lib Dem figures show. This compares with 2.4 million tests in Scotland on a population of 5.5 million.

“I am worried that testing capacity is both too limited and underutilised," Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said today.

"Slovakia tested their entire population over a couple of weekends and caught 38,000 cases.

"That is the scale of ambition we should be looking for.”

The Lib Dem leader warned that comprehensive testing would be the "best bet" for keeping the virus under control until a vaccine was rolled out.

A vaccine could arrive before the end of the year - but is unlikely to start having a significant impact before next spring.

Mr Rennie said: “The Scottish Government has a tendency to make bold assertions about how certain measures would not be beneficial, only for reality to catch up with them.

“If they had listened to opposition proposals on testing for students earlier, the harsh measures student halls were subjected to could have been avoided.

“If they had agreed to a full program of testing at Scotland’s airports, there would not have been so many cases brought back in the autumn.

“If they had insisted on negative tests for people discharged from hospitals to care homes, the worst scenes of this pandemic could have been avoided."

Plans were unveiled today for two new testing sites - at Leamington Spa in the Midlands and another at an unconfirmed site in Scotland - which will open early next year and increase testing capacity by 600,000.

The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.

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