The Scottish Government has been urged to do more to protect patients from catching coronavirus after another record week of infections on hospital wards.
Public Health Scotland data revealed 244 patients definitely caught Covid-19 while in hospital and a further 114 were probably infected.
The latest figures, for the week ending January 17, are the highest numbers of definite and probable cases of hospital-acquired coronavirus infection during any point in the pandemic.
It is the third consecutive weekly increase in the number of patients who caught the virus while receiving treatment unrelated to Covid-19.
A total of 2884 definite cases of hospital infection – where a patient tested positive for coronavirus 15 days or more after being admitted to hospital – have now been recorded.
There have also been a further 1259 probable cases – where a positive test result is recorded between eight and 14 days after they were admitted – and 969 indeterminate cases where the positive test was recorded between days three and seven of admission.
Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “Hospital-onset Covid infections have been increasing steadily for months and infections will keep rising if the NHS continues to struggle with staffing and PPE.
“The SNP still has work to do. Hospitals remain a site of primary care and more efforts must be devoted to protecting both frontline staff and vulnerable patients, otherwise we are fighting a losing battle.
“The SNP cannot become complacent at this crucial stage.
“They must get back to basics, get infection rates down and ensure our hospitals are safe for everyone.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Any rise in hospital onset cases of Covid-19 is concerning but we are working hard with health boards to manage and reduce this through the winter preparedness and remobilisation plans.
“Our hospitals are operating at a significantly higher bed occupancy now compared to the first wave and the additional pressure as a result of increased admission of patients who have acquired Covid-19 in the community.
“We are also undertaking significantly more asymptomatic testing compared to the first wave, meaning we are identifying more asymptomatic but positive cases.
“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure that infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in hospital and other care settings are robust.
“This includes measures such as the appropriate use of PPE, extended use of face masks and coverings, physical distancing, outbreak management, the expansion of asymptomatic patient-facing staff testing and admission testing to ensure patients are placed in the appropriate pathway.”
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