NICOLA Sturgeon forensically ripped up Douglas Ross’s claims that only half of positive Covid-19 cases reported are being followed up by Test and Protect.

The First Minister took the Scottish Tory leader to task after he stated that “provisional figures for this week show that just over half of cases are being traced”.

However, Sturgeon pointed out that is exactly what Ross was citing, provisional figures which are not fully updated until the following week.

And, she chastised the leader for doing a “real disservice” to contact tracing staff who are playing a “valuable and vital” role in the Covid crisis.

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Ross, who was not in Holyrood but joined virtually after having earlier appeared in the House of Commons during Scottish questions, also had some technical issues as he asked his question to the First Minister.

Before a strange echo effect kicked in, Ross said: “Covid cases remain high, and therefore it's vital that our test and protect system is operating at the top of its game.

“But we know this is a system that continues to be overwhelmed, provisional figures for this week show that just over half of cases are being traced, and this follows reports that contact tracers are being advised to not repeatedly call positive covid patients if they can’t get through to them.”

The First Minister was quick to forensically pick apart Ross’s claims and provide the figures to back it up.

She said: “Douglas Ross has quoted figures today, as was done by others last week, that frankly do a real disservice to those working in Test and Protect.

“The publication that he has quoted which cites provisional figures actually tells you why it's not reliable to quote provisional figures because the contact tracing is ongoing and therefore it is the following week, when the figures that are finalised, are the ones that matter.

“So if you take the provisional figures last week, and I think it was Jackie Baillie that quoted these last week, the provisional figure for completed cases was 43%.

“It’s up to I think 55% this week, but that 43% that was quoted last week to do down Test and Protect in the finalised figure this week is 82%.

The National:

Ross joined the meeting of parliament virtually, having earlier been seen in the House of Commons

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“So it is doing a real disservice for politicians who perfectly legitimately want to have a go at me, and this government, in doing so, are doing down the efforts of those working in Test and Protect.”

The First Minister added that this week's provisional figures for Test and Protect showed 89% of cases were closed within the 72 hour target set by the WHO.

She added: “This is an organisation that yes is under pressure, how could it be otherwise with the pandemic and the level of infection right now, but as an organisation that is working hard every single day and is playing a valuable and vital part in helping to get this country through, and I think it is wrong for figures to be quoted in a way that unfairly undermines the efforts that test and protect staff are making.”