Scotland’s coronavirus contact tracing system is “working to a very high standard”, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.
The First Minister said the “coding error” which led to an overestimation of the number of people traced within 24 hours of a contact testing positive for Covid-19 has now been rectified.
The figures, first reported by The Scottish Sun, showed the system performing up to five times worse than previously thought, with contact tracing taking longer than 72 hours to complete in some cases.
Ms Sturgeon said: “There has been a coding error going back in terms of how Public Health Scotland have been classifying cases.
“It means some of the cases they had classified as being processed within zero to 24 hours actually should have fallen in 24 to 48 hours. And that has changed some of the figures.”
She stressed the Test and Protect system is “working well”, saying the WHO target is for at least 80% of new coronavirus cases to have their close contacts traced and quarantined in 72 hours of them being diagnosed.
The latest figures, for the week up to November 8, show 95.8% of contact tracing of all positive cases was completed within 72 hours, Ms Sturgeon said.
Speaking about the issue at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, she added: “In fact 88.7% was completed within 48 hours so Test and Protect was exceeding the WHO standard for 72 hours within 48 hours.
“So Test and Protect is working well. Like any system it is not going to be perfect, the coding error should not have happened but it happened, these things do happen. It has been rectified.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie called for an urgent statement to the Scottish Parliament on how the “suspect statistics” were published.
His Scottish Conservative counterpart Douglas Ross criticised the “wildly inaccurate” data and said it “beggars belief that this has gone unnoticed for months”.
Mr Ross said: “However, it’s not just about dodgy data, this risks harming our ability to fight the spread of the virus.
“We need answers and reassurance on this as a matter of urgency.”
Public Health Scotland said the coding error has not affected any strategic or operational decision-making on the contact tracing programme.