Thu 1 Oct, 2020

The level of testing in Scotland is clearly a policy choice. Alison Johnstone

Scotland is falling behind on COVID testing, the Scottish Greens have warned.

Scotland is testing fewer a day per 1,000 people than the UK average. This is despite the National Clinical Director claiming at COVID committee yesterday that Scotland was “at the top of the league table”, testing more than anyone else. [1]

At First Minister’s Questions Scottish Greens health spokesperson Alison Johnstone raised the fact Scotland closed a testing lab ahead of the anticipated spikes in cases as schools and universities returned.

She also raised the fact Cambridge and Nottingham universities are delivering asymptomatic testing while Scotland still relies on a privatised UK-wide testing scheme that only tests those with symptoms.

Speaking afterwards, Alison Johnstone said: “The level of testing in Scotland is clearly a policy choice. Why else would a lab have been closed during the summer, even when we knew that the return of schools and universities would lead to a spike? When universities in England are rolling out asymptomatic testing, there is a serious question why this isn’t happening in Scotland.

“There are obviously trains of transmission that begin with a carrier with no symptoms, but the Scottish Government’s current testing regime means that they are not tested. The First Minister says test and protect is working, but it is designed to reduce infections. Instead, we are seeing cases rising.

"The reality is Scotland is not testing enough people, which is why the Scottish Greens have proposed upscaling NHS Scotland’s efforts to move to mass testing of the population. The alternative is a damaging endless cycle of lockdowns while we wait for a vaccine.”

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