Coronavirus testing centres struggling to clear backlog

The First Minister said there were 'serious concerns' over a growing number of unfinished tests.

The Scottish Government has “serious concerns” over a growing backlog of coronavirus tests which is impacting daily case figures.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said 70 new cases of Covid-19 had been reported in Scotland overnight, or 2.7% of newly-tested people.

But she said the developing bottleneck of incomplete tests means Sunday’s figures are likely “not yet complete”.

Surging demand has seen the UK Government-managed regional test centres struggle to clear their backlogs in different parts of the UK, including the Lighthouse super-laboratory in Glasgow which deals with the Scottish swabs.

That UK-wide network now deals with the vast bulk of coronavirus test samples in Scotland and the rest of Britain.

The First Minister said she has “very serious concerns that the backlog of test results… is starting to impact on the timeous reporting of Scottish results”.

She said the Scottish Government is looking to “escalate” talks with their UK counterparts to fix the issue.

Sturgeon urged UK health secretary Matt Hancock to share the “full nature of issues they are facing” so her administration can help in alleviating them.

No new deaths of Scots with coronavirus have been reported in the last 24 hours, the FM told Monday’s Covid briefing.

Meanwhile, 264 people are in hospitals across Scotland with the virus, an increase of five in the last day, with seven of those in intensive care, which is unchanged.

The problems with testing come after a new coronavirus contact tracing app was launched in Scotland last week to compliment the ‘Test and Protect’ system.

More than 900,000 people have downloaded the Protect Scotland proximity app, which Sturgeon said is enough of the adult population for the technology to begin to be effective.

However, she urged those over 16 who have not yet downloaded the confidential app and have phones that support it to do so.

The First Minister particularly urged students who will be heading to university soon to use the software.

Meanwhile, new restrictions on social gatherings have come into legal force on Monday which limit all such meetings to a maximum of six people.

That applies to indoor and outdoor gatherings, and the six people must come from no more than two households.

Children under 12 don’t count towards the limit but must come from either of the two households.

Sturgeon told the briefing: “I’m aware this restriction is a really tough one, but restricting the number of households that can meet is important in reducing transmission rates.”

Additional measures remain in place in seven west of Scotland council areas prohibiting indoor gatherings between households altogether amid surging coronavirus cases in recent weeks.

Affecting more than a million residents, these measures are in place in: Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, Renfrewshire, East and West Dunbartonshire and North and South Lanarkshire.

The First Minister said: “New cases in Scotland have been more than trebling every three weeks in the last few weeks.

“That pattern is not sustainable.

“If we all act collectively now, our hope is that we can stem that increase.”

She added: “Transmission is higher than we can be comfortable with right now and that is the case across the country.”

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