Just over a fifth of care home workers in Scotland have been tested for coronavirus after the Scottish Government promised routine testing.
Nicola Sturgeon said “initial data” showed more than 11,000 residential care staff had been tested of an estimated Scottish workforce of about 50,000.
The figures, set to be published later, also show 15,000 of the country’s 35,000 care home residents have had a test.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said at the end of May that weekly testing would be offered to all care home staff.
She issued a letter of instruction to health board chief executives on Sunday to speed up the policy’s implementation.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions, Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw told Nicola Sturgeon her government needs to “get a grip” of testing for care home staff.
He urged the First Minister on Wednesday to set out a “hard deadline” for health boards to put testing programmes for all care home staff in place.
Sturgeon said she would consider the proposal but stressed that the number of cases in care homes is falling and the number of deaths is “reducing rapidly and on a sustained basis”.
It follows new weekly figures from National Records of Scotland that show confirmed and suspected Covid-19 deaths in care homes fell to 42, down from 69 the previous week.
But to date, more people have died with the virus in care homes than anywhere else, with 47% of deaths in residential care compared to 46% in hospitals and 7% elsewhere.
Carlaw said: “The fact is that ministers need to get a grip of the situation and they need to do it now.
“The time for promising is over, it’s long past time they deliver.”
The FM told the Scottish Tory leader: “I would make the point, again, that this will be ongoing testing that has to be done week in, week out for as long as we are continuing to live with this virus.
“We’re not simply doing it by posting testing kits to care homes, we’re doing it in a way that is robust and sustainable.”
Addressing his call to “get a grip”, Sturgeon replied: “We’re now seeing, albeit in a situation that has been incredibly challenging and continues to be challenging, the numbers of care homes with an active outbreak of Covid-19 reducing.
“We’re seeing the number of new cases reducing, and as I’ve just reported, we’re seeing the number of people dying in care homes because of this virus reducing rapidly and on a sustained basis.”
She said the figures show the actions taken by the Scottish Government have had the desired effect.
The Scottish Conservative leader again urged her to put in place a “clear timetable and clear deadline” for the first tests to be completed.
The First Minister accused Carlaw of “engaging in party politicking”.
She said: “What happens week in and week out is that I, the health secretary and the entire Scottish Government gets on with the job of tackling this outbreak.”
That is, Sturgeon said, combined with the “collective efforts of people the length and breadth of the country”, why case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths – including care home deaths – continue to fall. why we’re seeing the number of cases decline, the number of people in hospital decline, the number of people in ICU decline, the number of people dying – including in care homes – decline.
“That’s the progress that we’re making,” she added.
The FM said there needs to be a “programme of work over time” put in place to ensure that testing of care home staff is carried out.