Scottish ministers criticised over Test and Protect system

The statistics were published by Public Health Scotland on Wednesday.

Scottish ministers criticised over Test and Protect system Getty Images
The figures were published by Public Health Scotland on Wednesday.

Scottish ministers have been told to be upfront about their “failings” on the Test and Protect system.

It comes after official figures revealed that the system had failed to meet targets set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

Statistics published by Public Health Scotland on Wednesday indicate that the number of cases closed in Scotland within 72 hours is below the WHO’s aim of 80%.

The figures show that a total of 73.2% of cases within the system were closed within that timescale, for the week ending July 4.

For the week ending June 27, revised statistics also showed that almost 35% of cases took longer than 72 hours to close.

“SNP ministers cannot brush this under the carpet and simply hope people will be contacted quicker.”

Annie Wells, Scottish Conservatives

Scottish Conservatives health spokesperson Annie Wells said: “It is clear that Scotland’s Test and Protect system is completely overwhelmed as a result of the recent surge in Covid cases.

“SNP ministers need to be upfront about their failings and admit they took their eye off the ball.

“A robust Test and Protect system remains a critical tool in fighting the virus, but the SNP Government have failed to ensure it has all the resources it needs.

“It is hugely concerning that we are now falling well below WHO standards to close 80% of cases within three days. That flies in the face of Nicola Sturgeon claiming that the system was coping well only a few days ago.”

Wells said that the figures must be a “wake-up call” for Scottish Government ministers.

“As we look to ease restrictions in the coming weeks, SNP ministers cannot brush this under the carpet and simply hope people will be contacted quicker,” she said.

“They must use these figures as a wake-up call and urgently outline how they will guarantee Test and Protect will operate as effectively as it can.”

Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said that the SNP must face up to the “scale of their failure”.

“It’s clear that the SNP has lost control of the pandemic. Test and Trace is in disarray and cases are spiralling,” she said.

“We cannot have the people of Scotland put in danger due to the failure of the SNP. The heroic efforts of our NHS and testing staff are being undermined by the incompetence of the SNP.

“It’s time the SNP faced up to the scale of their failure and took action to mitigate the damage they have already caused.”

“SNP ministers once again just weren’t prepared and have lost control of the virus”.

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrats leader

Scottish Liberal Democrats leader Willie Rennie said: “Test and Protect has been engulfed by this latest wave of the virus. It’s not meeting basic international standards.

“People have sacrificed a huge amount to buy the government time. This system should be able to withstand high case rates by now.

“Instead, some tracing activities have been turned off altogether and people are routinely waiting days for Test and Protect to show up. It’s evidence that SNP ministers once again just weren’t prepared and have lost control of the virus.

“The absences and self-isolations that caused chaos in some schools towards the end of term are now threatening to overwhelm other essential services from our hospitals to bin collections.

“We need to see Test and Protect reinforced, the vaccine rollout intensified and an end to the dithering around the current unsustainable self-isolation system which is proving a big challenge for key services and workers.”

“Given rising case numbers, the system has been contacting unprecedented numbers of people”.

Scottish Government spokesperson

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The Test and Protect system has continued to operate well as case numbers have increased in recent weeks. Given rising case numbers, the system has been contacting unprecedented numbers of people.

“As we announced last week, we are using a variety of methods to contact people, including using digital methods like SMS messages for lower risk cases and prioritising calls for higher risk cases.  These changes will ensure that people are contact traced, and begin isolation, as quickly as possible.

“The majority of people comply when asked to self-isolate and we are thankful for the important role they are continue to play in stopping transmission of Covid-19, the latest evidence from research suggest 74% of community-based positive cases and their close contacts isolated entirely in line with the self-isolation guidance.”

They continued: “Last week we reached the milestone of having more than 50% of the entire population fully vaccinated and our priority is to extend our successful vaccine rollout as quickly as possible as quickly as we can.

“All mainland health boards are also now offering drop-in vaccination clinics as the programme nears completion of first doses for all adults in Scotland.

“We will have to manage living with Covid-19 for some time to come, even when we are able to move beyond level zero. While we hope we are in the process of emerging from the pandemic, case rates at the moment underline the fact that this virus is still with us and we will consider all the evidence when we review the easing of restrictions.”