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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland aiming to analyse 12,000 Covid-19 coronavirus tests a day by mid-May

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says she expects Covid-19 testing capacity in Scotland to rise to more than 10,000 a day next week.

It had earlier been confirmed that Scotland had exceeded Ms Sturgeon’s target of achieving capacity to process 3500 samples a day by the end of April, with yesterday seeing 4350 samples analysed.

At today's Scottish Government briefing she pointed out that, at the start of the crisis, just 350 tests could be analysed per day in two labs in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

The aim is now to hit 12,000 daily analyses by the middle of the month.

The First Minister also said that a more in-depth strategy for a test, trace and isolate approach to managing the outbreak will be unveiled next week which “will play a part in helping emerge gradually from lockdown.”

She said: “At the beginning of April I said that by the end of April I wanted us to have a testing capacity within National Health Service labs of 3500 tests per day. At the start of the coronavirus outbreak we had two NHS labs, one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, that between them could do 350 tests a day.

"I can confirm now that we have NHS labs operating in all 14 health board areas and yesterday we met our target of having a capacity to process 3500 tests per day, and that we exceeded that target – as of now we have active load capacity for 4350 tests a day to be carried out within the National Health Service.

"And by the end of next week the capacity within the NHS will increase further to around 6500 tests per day, and we're aiming to reach 8000 by the middle of this month.

"I also promised that we would work to ensure that Scotland benefited from UK-wide efforts to reach capacity of 100,000 tests a day and we are doing that. The Lighthouse laboratory based in Glasgow became operational last week and is one of three Lighthouse centres across the UK.

"The majority of the samples tested there are taken from the regional drive-through testing centres in Scotland based in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Inverness and Perth, and new mobile testing sites that are being established as part of the UK government network.

"The Glasgow University lab has a current testing capacity of 4000 a day – though I should say that will be reduced to just 2000 day for the next four days because they're moving to a new shift system, and increasing to 4000 again from Tuesday.

"In summary on testing capacity, between the 4350 tests that can now be processed in our NHS labs and the 4000 in the Lighthouse lab, the total normal daily capacity coronavirus testing in Scotland is now 8350.

"And with the further projected increases in capacity that I mentioned a moment ago, I expect that to be at least 10,500 by this time next week and 12,000 by the middle of the month.

"Laboratory capacity is one thing but what matters is the volume of testing we do and the clinical objectives that we set for testing as this can't simply be about chasing numbers.

"We are also working to extend categories for testing in a way that better be equips us to suppress the virus."

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