Nicola Sturgeon locked in furious Twitter spat over coronavirus politics accusation

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Scotland’s First Minister took to Twitter to respond to the remarks made by BBC News’ Health Editor Hugh Pym, citing a Westminster source. In the tweet, Mr Pym wrote: “After Nicola Sturgeon spoke of very serious concerns over testing problems and called for talks with UK government, a Westminster source said ‘It is disappointing that the First Minister has decided to play politics with the pandemic – we have been working with Scottish Govt’.”

In reply to the accusation, Ms Sturgeon wrote: “Wanting to sort out a testing backlog is not playing politics – it’s about making sure we’re fighting the virus as effectively as possible, and that’s in interests of all of us.

“And to that end, I’m actually just off a call with Matt Hancock that I hope will help resolve issues.”

She added: “The issue that we do appear to be suffering some impacts from – and again it’s a UK-wide issue – is a backlog in tests being processed that is then leading to a longer turnaround time.”

Ms Sturgeon claimed Health Secretary Matt Hancock proposed decreasing the number of testing slots in Scottish mobile and regional test centres.

She argued he restricted the number of slots in Scotland due to a UK-wide backlog.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “We were concerned over the weekend that one of the ways the UK Government was trying to deal with the backlog was to restrict access to testing, and the Health Secretary managed to avoid that happening in Scotland.”

Ms Sturgeon has called on Mr Hancock to reveal the “full-scale and nature of issues they are facing”.

She argued that Mr Hancock’s confirming the full-scale of the problem would help her Government address and solve the issue.

She added: “There was a proposal over the weekend that the available slots at mobile testing units and regional testing centres in Scotland would be reduced and the Health Secretary managed to avoid that happening so that we retained full capacity for Scotland.

“We have no indication at the moment that there is any significant issue in Scotland with people accessing testing slots.”

She added: “The issue that we do appear to be suffering some impacts from – and again it’s a UK-wide issue – is a backlog in tests being processed that is then leading to a longer turnaround time.”

It comes after the First Minister revealed “very serious concerns” about an apparent backlog of coronavirus test results.

She sought “urgent discussions” with UK ministers to resolve the issue.

Only 70 new coronavirus infections were reported in Scotland on Monday, compared with 244 cases on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said the figures were “not yet complete”.

But Ms Sturgeon faced backlash from Twitter users too over her response to the reported testing backlog.

One furious user wrote: “You have politicised this crisis at every turn.

“You disgrace Scotland.”

Another user added: “You have been playing politics this whole time, we can all see right through you.”

However, Twitter supporters also backed the First Minister, with one user saying they were “proud of the way you’ve dealt with COVID and doing everything possible to prioritise it and it’s entirely to your credit.”

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