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Covid Scotland: 18 new deaths as ‘end of mass free tests’ considered

The government are said to be consider a change to the testing system

The Scottish Government has confirmed a further 18 deaths from Covid in Scotland and 2,417 new cases of the virus.

The latest public health data shows that 8.1% of tests were positive, while the government figures show 943 people are in hospital with recently confirmed coronavirus.

Of the new cases, 213 are in Fife while Dundee reported 87 new infections. The case tally in Angus rose by 53.

A total of 61 people are receiving treatment from Covid in Scottish intensive care units, the government confirmed.

Latest Covid stats in Scotland

It means that the death toll from coronavirus in Scotland among those who tested positive now stands at 8,773.

The daily figures also show 4,246,101 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,859,839 have received a second dose.

It comes as the UK Government reportedly consider the end of mass free Covid tests in a move that could save billions.

Conservative ministers are said to be discussing the end of free lateral flow testing for those without symptoms, as well as potentially scaling back the provision of free PCR tests.

The testing regime could change

The Telegraph reported that the current schemes could be changed due to the high levels of vaccination across the country.

Mass free Covid tests ‘not sustainable’

Scots are currently advised to test themselves twice weekly using a lateral flow test, whilst a PCR test is available free for anyone who has symptoms or is identified as a close contact of a positive case.

The newspaper said routine free tests could instead be limited to “high-risk” settings like hospitals, care homes and schools. Similar plans have also been announced by Germany and France.

“It’s agreed that universal access isn’t sustainable or necessary given high vaccination levels.

Covid Scotland antibody tests
Scots are currently advised to take two tests each week

“We now need to divide what the parameters should be that reasonably qualify access to free testing,” a source told the newspaper.

Those said to be in favour of scrapping the tests said the current system was unsustainable and not necessary amid high vaccination levels.

Nearly 85% of Scots over the age of 16 have now received two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Over 95% of those aged over 40 have had two doses, the latest data shows.

Asked previously about the provision of testing, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said no decision had been made on the plans for the scheme next year.

Lateral flow tests are supplied across the country by the UK Government as part of a four nations system.

The majority of PCR tests in Scotland are also handled by UK Government laboratories.

Of the 35,891 new tests reporting a result on Saturday, 15,009 were from NHS Scotland labs while 20,882 were from the UK Government programme.

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