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Figures released by the UK Government show Scotland health officials tested 445 per 1,000 of the population or 2,428,624 people overall. In comparison, 545 people per 1,000 were tested in England totalling 30,334,480 people, figures analysed by this website show.
At the same time, as part of the Scottish Government’s plan to increase capacity, SNP chiefs say three new coronavirus testing laboratories would be ready by the end of the year.
Originally meant to be delivered in October, the creation of three new COVID-19 testing labs was a key part of the Government policy.
Officials say it will help NHS Scotland process all of the country’s care home tests.
But Allan Wilson, president of the Institute of Biomedical Science industry body for UK lab workers claimed the facilities would not be ready this year and urged the Scottish Government to be realistic.
He said: “Politicians should promise less and deliver more.
“There is a driven desire in a lot of politicians to give you the good news but sometimes you’ve just got to be realistic about what is actually deliverable.”
Willie Rennie MSP, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats claimed warned virus testing is “too limited and under-utilised”.
Speaking today, Mr Rennie said: “Until a vaccine arrives our best bet is a comprehensive package of testing and tracing measures.
“The Scottish Government has a tendency to make bold assertions about how certain measures would not be beneficial, only for reality to catch up with them.
“I am worried that testing capacity is both too limited and under-utilised.
“Slovakia tested their entire population over a couple of weekends and caught 38,000 cases.
“That is the scale of ambition we should be looking for.”
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Monica Lennon MSP, Scottish Labour Health spokesperson, said: “Monica Lennon: “Yet again, Scotland is lagging behind other parts of the UK on testing.
“Too many asymptomatic cases are going undetected and we are failing to break the chains of transmission.
“Nicola Sturgeon will always pick the statistics she likes best, however, until the Scottish Government expands and speeds up Test and Protect we are going to be living with lockdown restrictions for a long time.”
Donald Cameron MSP, Scottish Conservative health representative stressed an “accurate and robust testing regime” would continue to play a hugely critical role in tackling COVID-19.
He added: “With speculation mounting about tighter restrictions, the SNP Government must ensure testing capacity increases as quickly as possible.
“We have seen that the UK Government have plans to boost testing capacity by 300,000 next year in Scotland and the SNP must show a similar level of ambition.
“SNP Ministers have to guarantee that everyone who should be getting tested in Scotland is being tested.”
Alison Johnstone, Scottish Greens health spokesperson, stressed the UK and Scotland had failed to build the “capacity to test enough people to properly identify and isolate the spread of the virus.”
In response, Nicola Sturgeon at today’s coronavirus briefing disputed the numbers.
Ms Sturgeon stressed the PCR testing was “demand-led”, adding: “It’s testing for people who have symptoms.
“The reason Scotland has done less of that [testing] than others parts of the UK is that we have had slightly fewer people with symptoms because the prevalence of the virus in Scotland has been lower.
“Actually, while we shouldn’t be complacent, that’s actually a good thing, not a bad thing.
“Sometimes these comparisons don’t actually tell you what you might hope that they tell you, sometimes they can actually be relatively speaking good news rather than bad news.”
On the new testing sites, Ms Sturgeon disputed the claims and added: “We said before that NHS Scotland is currently developing three new testing hubs in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow and there was some press speculation over the weekend about possible delays to these hubs.
“So I want to take the opportunity today to stress that all three of them are on track to open before the end of this year.
“As we speak, building work has been carried out and recruitment is taking place.”
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