The Scottish Liberal Democrats have today called on the Scottish Government to begin publishing a daily breakdown of coronavirus testing numbers by key sector, as is being done in countries such a Cyprus, and by local area.
The government in Cyprus publishes daily statistics broken down by testing setting/group and identifies how many of each type of test were positive. This includes information about the number of tests and cases identified via the tracing regime, and in some key sectors such as construction.
Scottish test numbers are currently communicated in two categories: the numbers carried out by NHS Scotland (in hospitals, care homes or the community) and the numbers carried out in drive through and mobile tests by the Regional Testing Centres in Scotland.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:
“Testing is one of the ways we’re going to get out of this crisis. Our capacity needs to be expanded at pace and our daily statistics need to be clear and categorised.
“The public deserve an honest picture of the scale of testing and its effectiveness. Other countries, like Cyprus, have taken steps to present testing figures broken down by key group. We now need to follow suit.
“This transparency would give people confidence. It would tell us if the tracing is working, how many repatriated people or visitors are bringing the virus into the country, if retail and construction sites are putting for workers at risk as we lift lockdown and if schools are safe.
“This information already exists and would reassure people. It would prove the government was focusing resources in the most acutely affected areas – namely care homes.
“The First Minister has said the public should be treated like grown-ups. Giving them a comprehensive report on daily testing figures would do just that.”
Orkney MSP Liam McArthur added:
“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.
“The First Minister has called for a ‘grown up’ conversation about how we take the difficult decisions in easing lockdown restrictions. Grown up conversations, however, are founded on transparency and honesty. That is why we need to see detailed figures on a localised basis.”