Covid Scotland: Waiting times to receive PCR test results should return to normal after ‘four-day waits’, says Professor Jason Leitch

The announcement comes as many people in Glasgow had to wait days for results before Christmas.

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Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said that those expecting PCR test results should only wait 24 to 36 hours now.

Speaking on Good Morning Scotland on Tuesday 28 December, Mr Leitch described delays in the testing system against a background of 8,252 positive results on December 25, 11,030 on December 26 and 10,562 on December 27.

The delays, My Leitch said, were due to sheer numbers and that wait times would now be ‘back to normal.’

He said: “It has just been big because quite a lot of people went for testing before Christmas, in order to try and get Christmas celebrations that were safe if they had symptoms or it they were contacted. I apologise for that. I am sorry if people had to wait a little bit longer. We think the acute problem, the immediate problem is resolved.

Picture Michael GillenPicture Michael Gillen
Picture Michael Gillen

“My understanding was, yesterday (Monday) speaking to test and protect leaders, that the backlog was cleared and they were back to somewhere between 24 and 36 hours for pretty much all the tests. Postal ones take a bit longer just because it takes a while to get through the mail and back. Fundamentally, yes, if there is a massive increase in PCR testing, then you do have to make some choices about prioritisation, about high-risk individuals and locations, but we are not at that stage yet.”

Mr Leitch also spoke about the rise in cases due to Omicron, saying: “We need to wait to see the numbers smooth out a little, to give the non-statistical phrase, just because Christmas testing behaviours are different, but if you look back to the day when Omicron first reared its head in Scotland, we had one case on November 28, we had 2,332 other cases, pretty much all Delta.

“Now we have four times that and it’s three-and-a-bit weeks later, nearly four weeks later, so, it has quadrupled in three weeks which is exactly what we said would happen, I am afraid.”

On hospitalisations, he said we’d become ‘used to these numbers’ but harked back to before the pandemic to give an idea of scale. “Before the pandemic our baseline intensive care beds for the whole country was about 200. So that’s two fifths of our intensive care base being made up by Covid cases, but you are right, that is down on our high numbers of well over 100 at some of these waves.

“The hospitalisation numbers are about the same proportions, somewhere about 500 or so, and have been declining with Delta. They are not rising at the rate they rose with Delta, which is excellent news and confirms, maybe, the data we saw a few days ago before Christmas about this being a milder disease, but milder does not mean mild.

“We should not overreact, we should absolutely not, but nor, and you would expect me to say this, should we underreact.”

Many people in Glasgow were impacting by this delay, with many waiting from three to six days for test results.