Orkney’s MSP, Liam McArthur, is calling on the Scottish Government to publish the number of covid-19 tests being carried out in each local health board area.
Mr McArthur has argued that greater transparency in the figures would help to build public understanding and confidence in the testing regime, as the government looks to embark on its “Test, Trace, Isolate and Support” strategy throughout Scotland.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Willie Rennie has urged Ministers to follow the lead of countries like Cyprus by publishing ‘setting-based’ testing data, making clear where and how information is being gathered.
Figures on the number of confirmed Covid-related deaths and positive cases are already released by the Scottish Government. In Orkney, this currently stands at 2 and 7 respectively.
However, the Scottish Government has refused so far to confirm the number of people in each area that have been tested, partly on the basis of concerns around patient confidentiality.
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“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.
“If there are any issues in getting this set up, local areas need to know so that those problems can be raised and then fixed.
“That is why it is essential that Ministers are as transparent as possible. Being up front about the amount of testing taking place at a local health board level is a key part of achieving that transparency, keeping people informed and building public confidence.
“Without knowing the extent of testing in Orkney, it is difficult to know what to make of the relatively low numbers of confirmed cases of Covid. That is a point I have been reinforcing with Scottish Ministers and NHS Orkney over recent weeks.
“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.”