Scotland’s Covid contact tracing system improved its turnaround time last week, though fewer contacts are being traced per case compared to earlier in the pandemic.
Test and Protect’s latest figures show only 6.1% of cases took more than 72 hours to complete for the week ending July 11, compared to 41.7% of cases in the week ending July 4.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) says at least 80% of new cases should have their contacts traced within 72 hours of the case being confirmed.
The system fell below this standard for two weeks as infections surged in late June and early July, prompting opposition parties to claim it was in “disarray”.
Despite the recent improvement in turnaround times, the average number of primary contacts identified per case has fallen during Scotland’s recent spike in infections.
It went from six contacts per case at the end of May to three in the week ending July 4.
Provisional data for the week ending July 11 shows only two contacts per case were identified.
In addition, calls to people who have been told to quarantine as a result of international travel have been paused since June 23.
Last week, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said an extra 100 staff had been brought in to help Test and Protect deal with the increased demand.
At the weekend, Mr Yousaf denied claims the contact tracing script had been altered in order to meet the WHO target.
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie accused the Government of “corner-cutting” to improve the turnaround times.
She said: “Make no mistake, Test and Protect is in disarray.
“It is obvious that the corner-cutting that the Government has instructed Test and Protect to follow has led to substantially fewer contacts being reached.
“The Government is playing fast and loose with the safety of the people of Scotland.
“It’s high time that the SNP stop the spin and bluster and get to grips with dealing with this pandemic.”
Scottish Conservative health spokeswoman Annie Wells said: “The SNP have been at pains to try and spin a rosy picture on Test and Protect but the reality with each passing week is far different.
“SNP ministers should be upfront and admit they failed to give it the resources required to cope with a surge in cases.
“They took their eye off the ball and have been playing catch-up ever since in trying to trace further spread of the virus.
“Now they are shamefully trying to cut corners in a bid to meet critical targets.”
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “The measures we have put in place to ensure the Test and Protect system is able to respond to increasing demand are working well and PHS figures published today show a welcome improvement in performance.
“Contact tracers are reaching unprecedented record numbers of people and staff continue to do fantastic work under significant pressure, delivering an effective and vital public health intervention, with the system closing record numbers of cases on a number of days in recent weeks.”
She added: “We are now using a variety of methods to contact people. This includes text messages for lower risk cases and prioritising calls with a shortened interview script focused on higher risk cases.
“These changes are based on clinical advice and ensure the contact tracing system uses its resource appropriately, proportionate to public health risks.
“This sensible and practical approach is enabling us to focus our contact tracing efforts on the most high risk cases and prevent further spread of the virus.”