Coronavirus: Sturgeon to pledge ‘ramping up’ of testing

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Nicola Sturgeon is set to outline plans to ramp up testing for coronavirus.

The first minister will insist that Scotland has already successfully increased testing capacity.

But she will say a new effort is required to get ready for the next phase in tackling the virus.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock is also due to announce whether his pledge of 100,000 tests a day has been met – with a government source telling the BBC it was “fairly confident”.

Ms Sturgeon previously pledged to match England on NHS testing capacity.

That target of having the capacity for 3,500 tests per day in Scotland has been met – although there have been reports that far fewer than that are actually being carried out.

  • How do Scotland and England compare on virus testing?
  • Coronavirus in Scotland: How man cases are there?

While all frontline NHS workers, social care staff and care home residents are eligible to be tested in England, regardless of whether they have symptoms, it is only those who are suspected of having the virus in Scotland who are being tested.

And in England, anyone over the age of 65 who is displaying symptoms of the virus is eligible to be tested, regardless of their circumstances.

This is not yet the case in Scotland, where over-65s with symptoms are only tested if they fall under one of the other categories – for example if they are a hospital patient or care home resident.

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More than half of all coronavirus deaths in Scotland are now happening in care homes

Scottish Care has called for a “significant” increase in the number of tests being carried out in care homes.

The industry body wants all residents and staff to be tested as soon as any coronavirus case is found in a home.

The first minister is also expected to be be challenged over whether private tests in Scotland take the overall total to the near 10,000, which could be seen as a proportionate share of the UK total.

Ms Sturgeon will focus on two aims:

  • To ensure that existing capacity is productively used
  • To widen the reach of testing to identify those infected – and then trace and isolate those they have contacted.

On Tuesday, the first minister announced that all patients over 70 who are admitted to hospital for any reason will now be tested for Covid-19.

She also said there had been “steady progress on increasing testing capacity” over the past month.

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