Thursday, 1 Oct 2020

Nicola Sturgeon issues challenge to Hancock as she laments ‘serious’ COVID-19 test backlog

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Nicola Sturgeon has said the Scottish Government has now “serious concern” with the “backlog of test results” for COVID-19. Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister confirmed she raised her fears with the UK Government. Ms Sturgeon urged Health Secretary Matt Hancock to share the “full nature of issues they are facing” so her government could assist in alleviating them.

Ms Sturgeon said: “We now have a very serious concern about the backlog of test results being faced by the UK lab network.

“This apparent delay in turnaround is causing us concern.”

She continued: “It’s important that I am frank that we now have a very serious concern that the backlog of test results being faced by the UK lab network – which the Glasgow Lighthouse lab is part of – is starting to impact on the timeous reporting of Scottish results.

“We’ve been raising these concerns with the UK Government in recent days. 

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“Indeed, over the weekend, the Health Secretary managed to resist a move to limit access to testing slots at mobile testing units and regional testing centres.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “However, this apparent delay in turnaround is causing us concern and therefore we’ll be seeking to escalate these discussions with the UK Government over the course of today.”

The Scottish leader has come under fire over recent weeks after residents across Scotland reported serious issues with the both the booking system and the testing process.

Thousands of people reported being asked to travel hundreds of miles to undergo tests as well as being unable to book a test despite calls from the Government for everyone to be tested if they develop COVID-19 symptoms.

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The First Minister also confirmed a total of 70 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours.

She however warned the testing backlog Scotland has been experiencing alongside the rest of the UK in past few weeks may have affected the total number of cases reported.

The statistics show that 22,749 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 22,679 the day before.

This is 2.7% of newly-tested individuals.

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Despite the delay in testing results, the Scottish First Minister was able to report no new coronavirus-related deaths have been recorded over the past 24 hours.

There are 264 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by five since Sunday. Seven of the patients were reported to be in intensive care, the same as the previous day.

Ms Sturgeon also said more than 900,000 Scots have now downloaded the Protect Scotland contact tracing app since it was first launched last week.

The SNP leader said it was believed this was enough for the technology to begin working but still urged those who have downloaded the app to do so as soon as possible.

She particularly urged students who will be heading to university soon to download the app while reassuring all data collected will be anonympous.

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