The First Minister said she would not “comment speculatively” on claims an Aberdeen bar had to proactively get in touch with contact tracers in the wake of a recent outbreak in the city.
It follows a statement by Soul Bar in Aberdeen that claimed one of the positive cases associated with the cluster at the Hawthorn Bar in Aberdeen had visited the outdoor area of the venue for a “short length of time” on Friday.
Paul Clarkson, operations director at PB Devco, which runs Soul Bar, said it had not been contacted by the Track and Trace team to confirm this but it had “proactively contacted” the NHS to inform it of the situation.
When quizzed on the claim at the First Minister’s daily briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said she would not comment “speculatively”, adding she believed the system was “robust”.
She added: “I’m not going to comment speculatively on the circumstances you’ve just described.
“I do believe Test and Protect is robust, it’s a system that is not entirely new; we’ve always had contact tracing in place but it is a system that has scaled up significantly to meet the scale of the challenge Covid-19 presents.
“It will be under pressure in outbreaks and we will require, as we go along, to make sure that we learn any lessons and we increase its effectiveness, if we need to do that.”
Ms Sturgeon also paid tribute to tracers who she said were doing “an incredible amount of very difficult work”.
“They will be making judgements based on all of the guidance and the definition on who should be contacted as contacts and, of course, if any businesses have concerns they should raise those concerns”, she added.
The number of cases detected in the Covid-19 cluster at the Hawthorn Bar now stands at 32 with Test and Protect teams having identified 120 close contacts of detected cases.
Tracers have contacted all 120 contacts but NHS Grampian has admitted “further cases” may be detected.
The Hawthorn Bar has closed for a fortnight, following the outbreak, and all of PB Devco’s venues have shut their doors until they feel safe to reopen.
The Scottish Conservatives have said the SNP must answer contact tracing questions, following the Aberdeen Covid-19 case cluster.
The party’s shadow health spokesman, Miles Briggs, said the “unfortunate circumstances” around the Aberdeen cluster may well be replicated in other parts of Scotland.
He added: “It appears that bars and individuals are having to ring round themselves if they feel ill or may have had contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
“These are systemic failures.
“The Scottish public were told that contact tracing was central to the test and trace strategy.
“But the SNP are barely doing any testing — and it appears they aren’t on top of tracing, either.
“Nicola Sturgeon may be good at press conference but on the ground the SNP have simply not put in place the tracing network needed to prevent a second wave of coronavirus. We need to see action now.”
These are systemic failures.”
Miles Briggs, Scottish Conservative shadow health spokesperson
The First Minister reiterated, during her daily briefing on Tuesday, that self-isolation is “non-negotiable” if someone is found to be a close contact of a positive case, adding that even if a test comes back negative the person will still need to isolate for two weeks.
Employers have also been warned that testing staff was not an alternative to self-isolating, adding there were “no shortcuts” for trying to contain the virus.