Scottish Liberal Democrats have today revealed new figures showing the strain that Scotland’s contact tracing system, Test and Protect, has been under in recent months.
New figures, obtained through Freedom of Information legislation, show that in July this year Test and Protect required 7 days to complete contact tracing interviews in the top 1% of cases.
In mid-April the worst waits for an interview averaged 47 hours. By the start of July that had increased to 172 hours.
The Scottish Government introduced a raft of changes to Test and Protect procedure “as a result of rapidly increasing case numbers”. Since June, text messages have been used as the default.
This week, as the daily Covid-19 case rate breached 5,000 for the first time, the Scottish Government announced more amendments to Test and Protect procedures to cope, alongside another recruitment drive.
Commenting, the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
“Contact tracing is one of the best tools to fight the spread of this virus. But almost a year and a half into this pandemic, Scotland’s system is still struggling desperately.
“The Scottish Government were caught off guard by a third wave and soaring case numbers earlier this summer. The Health Secretary had to scrabble together emergency recruitment drives in response. Now we know that in the weeks that followed some cases were taking a week to be locked down.
“This week, Scotland surpassed its own miserable record on daily case numbers. Test and Protect will be under extreme pressure once again. The risk of people slipping through the net has increased.
“The Scottish Government should have ensured Test and Protect was ready and waiting when restrictions lifted. Instead, it was on the back foot and short staffed. With long Covid a real possibility, that complacency is devastating.
“If lockdown is to be a thing of the past, the Health Secretary needs to put more capacity in place and get it right this time.”