Lack of Transparency of Local Covid19 Tests Undermining Public Confidence

 “Without knowing the extent of testing in Orkney, it is difficult to know what to make of the relatively low numbers of confirmed cases of Covid.” Liam McArthur MSP

Scotland is now in its 9th week of Covid19 lockdown. The weekly figures issued by the National Register of Scotland (NRS) show that for the 3rd week in a row deaths, where Covid19 is mentioned on the death certificate, have decreased.

Link to download: covid deaths report week 20 17th of May

The figures are up to 17th of May and also show that Care Home covid19 related deaths are still at a shocking 55% of all deaths.

care home deaths NRS 17th of May 2020

So far, as of 17th of May, there have been a total of 3,546 deaths registered in Scotland
where the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) was mentioned on the death certificate.

There has also been an increase in other deaths including : dementia, Alzheimer’s,cancer and ‘other causes’. There have been repeated warnings about the effects of delayed and cancelled procedures for non-Covid19 related conditions and illnesses. “We are starting to see people who may be at risk of developing cancer fearing a COVID-19 diagnosis more than a cancer diagnosis.” 

The greatest number of deaths related to Covid19 in Scotland are in the 85+ age group. This accounts for 42% of all the deaths with the virus. Those aged between 75 and 84 account for 34% of the total.

The Health Board with the highest rate of deaths with Covid19 is Greater Glasgow and Clyde at 9.8 deaths per 10,000.And related to that statistic is the growing evidence of the inequality in Scotland leading to more Covid19 deaths in those living in poverty.  Those Living in Poverty in Scotland Twice As Likely To Die From #Covid19

Deaths per Health Board

Eileanan Siar (Western Isles) is the only Health Board area where there have been no deaths due to Covid 19.

This is another table with the same information which might help.

Covid19 deaths per health board up to 17th of May 2020 week 20

Highly recommended as a source of data: Scotland Coronavirus Tracker


The Scottish Government continues to move towards a Test, Trace, Isolate, Support strategy and has expanded the types of people eligible for testing. All care home staff will now be tested on a regular basis. Anyone over the age of 5 years is eligible to be tested. It is still the case, however, that the full testing capacity in Scotland is nowhere near being used.

The data recorded for 19th May is:  NHS labs in Scotland tested 3,699 and Drive Through/Mobile labs tested 2,653.

Sadly 16 health and social care workers have died as a result of Covid19.

The three symptoms of COVID-19 :

  • continuous cough
  • high temperature
  • loss of sense of taste or smell 

Drive Through Tests are at  Aberdeen, Edinburgh or Glasgow airports, and in Perth and Inverness.

Online Tests can be booked: if that is not possible call 0300 303 2713.

Questions continue to be asked as to the numbers being tested for Covid19 and why it appears so much of the capacity in Scotland is not being used. It has been suggested that many workers, including those in social care,  fear a positive test result. Such a result would mean they would have to self-isolate and end up struggling on Statutory Sick Pay.

Liam McArthur, Orkney Constituency MSP, Lib/Dem, is calling on the Scottish Government to publish the number of Covid-19 tests being carried out in each local health board area. So far the Scottish Government has refused to confirm the number of people in each area that have been tested, partly on the basis of concerns around patient confidentiality.

Liam McArthur said:

 “In the absence of a vaccine, any move away from lockdown needs to be backed up by a reliable regime of testing and tracing. We need to keep the virus in sight, so we can properly manage the risk.

“If there are any issues in getting this set up, local areas need to know so that those problems can be raised and then fixed.

 “That is why it is essential that Ministers are as transparent as possible.  Being up front about the amount of testing taking place at a local health board level is a key part of achieving that transparency, keeping people informed and building public confidence.

 “Without knowing the extent of testing in Orkney, it is difficult to know what to make of the relatively low numbers of confirmed cases of Covid. That is a point I have been reinforcing with Scottish Ministers and NHS Orkney over recent weeks.”

Covid19 deaths 17th May 2020 NRS 1

Reporter: Fiona Grahame



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