Nicola Sturgeon has stressed Scotland’s testing network is working effectively and said Scots should have confidence in the system.
Responding to the suggestion that the public’s trust in the testing system was “ebbing away”, the First Minister said the Test and Protect system was “working well”.
Although insisting she is “not complacent”, Ms Sturgeon said a problem with testing capacity linked to a surge of demand when schools returned “has significantly improved”.
Asked about the testing system by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, Ms Sturgeon said: “I do not want people out there to get an impression that Test and Protect is not working, that would be counterproductive – particularly when it is working so well.
“People should have confidence in it”.
She added: “We have had an issue in the UK-wide lab network of the speed of processing those tests.
“I can tell you that that problem – as of now – has significantly improved and the turnaround time of tests had speeded up again and we monitor that very carefully.”
Ms Sturgeon also said contact tracers are reaching “well over 90%” of infected patients’ close contacts.
Following the statement, Mr Leonard said: “Access to testing is chaotic, too often the system is overwhelmed and so public confidence is ebbing away.”
Scottish Greens parliamentary co-leader Alison Johnstone also challenged the First Minister on the issues people have faced accessing testing, suggesting the UK-wide system had “failed”.
Ms Johnstone said the Scottish Government should “rapidly expand” NHS Scotland’s testing capacity, rather than rely on the UK Government’s system.
She said: “The Scottish Government must step up to that challenge and move mountains to make mass testing happen in Scotland.
“Mass testing – including weekly tests for those who are at heightened risk of exposure to the virus because they work in our hospitals, in our schools or provide care – is critical.”
Ms Sturgeon rejected the idea that the UK-wide system had been a failure.
“Our testing strategy right now is appropriate and clinically driven, and is providing access to the groups of people in Scotland that we consider need access to testing,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon continued: “One of the most important things I want to get across today is that Test and Protect is functioning well.
“It’s really important that all of us encourage people to have confidence in that system, because it is really important both in identifying cases, and then allowing the follow-up to be done that supports self isolation.”