Sturgeon shamed: Scottish leader fails new COVID test goal… less than 50 percent achieved

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The First Minister pledged that she wanted to be able to carry out 65,000 coronavirus tests a day and revealed a testing strategy in August. But the latest figures from the Scottish Government show only 28,000 tests for the virus can be carried out each weekday, a fall of 12,000 since mid-August.

Scottish Greens MSP Alison Johnstone has now written to the First Minister outlining a five-point mass testing plan to ramp up testing across the country.

Ms Johnstone said: “With cases rising rapidly across Scotland and the privatised UK testing system failing to keep up, the case for mass testing is now stronger than ever.

“People with mild or no symptoms can have COVID-19 but the current strategy remains largely focussed on testing those with symptoms.

“The more information we have about who has the virus and where it is spreading the better we can tackle it.

 

“So, it’s vital that mass testing, including weekly testing of all NHS and care staff, is put in place urgently.”

Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative Health spokesperson, added: “Not only has there been no progress, we are sliding backwards.

“We need to know when or even if, this SNP promise will ever be met.”

But Nicola Sturgeon strongly defended Edinburgh’s testing strategy stressing they had not lost control of the virus in Scotland.

Speaking on Sky News, Ms Sturgeon claimed the lack of testing capacity was being used to prepare for a difficult winter period.

She said: “That is because over the summer we suppressed the virus.

“That doesn’t mean we can be complacent about it, or not take it very seriously.

“It shows we were right to do that over the summer and I think we’re right now to act quickly and decisively to try and stop that increase in cases.”

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Ms Sturgeon added: “We suppressed the virus to very low levels because of lockdown and lifted lockdown a little bit more slowly than other parts of the UK but as lockdown measures are lifted and people start to interact with each other more then the virus just gets more opportunities to spread.

“We’re also going into winter, we’re not into the depths of winter yet but temperatures are falling a little bit so the conditions for the virus start to come more favourable for it.”

Under the Scottish Government testing strategy plans, all contacts of people classed as “COVID-19 index cases” will now be offered testing, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

Such contacts are currently advised to isolate at home for 14 days.

 

They will still be asked to do this but it is hoped testing will enable further contacts to be identified, helping to contain future outbreaks of the disease.

The Scottish Government Strategy concluded: “Testing is one important tool in our overall approach to managing the pandemic in Scotland and reducing as far as is possible all of the harms caused by COVID-19.

“Testing does not – in and of itself – reduce transmission of the virus.

“Testing provides information that can enable us to take action to reduce transmission of the virus.”

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland’s testing strategy “seeks to give a concise and clear explanation of whom we are seeking to test, why we are doing so and what our plans in the near future are”.

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