The latest figures detailing the number of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in the last 24 hours in Scotland have been announced.
The figures in Scotland as at 13 December 2020 are as follows:
- 800 new cases of Covid-19 reported
- 139 of these were in Lothian, 179 in Greater Glasgow & Clyde and 116in Lanarkshire.
- 17,236 new tests were reported and 5.2% of those newly tested showed positive results
- 47 people were in intensive care yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19
- 1,015 people were in hospital yesterday with recently confirmed Covid-19
- 1,263,656 people have now been tested in Scotland.
- 2 newly reported deaths have been announced today of people who have tested positive within the last 28 days, but the numbers at weekends can be underreported as registry offices are closed
- The total number of positive cases in Scotland has risen to 106,170
- The number of deaths under this daily measurement is now 4,111
National Records of Scotland announced their weekly figures on Wednesday stating that the total number of Covid-19 related deaths to 6 December 2020 is 5,868. This figure is calculated on a wider definition of deaths relating to Covid-19 than the daily figure reported by The Scottish Government.
Situation in Edinburgh
Much has been said in recent days, by politicians and local business people on the subject of the level of restrictions which apply here in Edinburgh, and whether they are appropriate. Seven local business people raised an action in the Court of Session to have the decision by Scottish Ministers overturned, but a decision was handed down on Friday night by Lord Ericht. His Lordship decided that there was no basis on which the court could either pause the decision or overturn it. He said that Scottish Ministers were ‘not obliged to act in accordance with the advice of their public health advisers, but were entitled to come to their own judgement’. He sympathised with the seven petitioners, who largely represented the hospitality sector, but said that the pandemic has also brought particularly difficult challenges to Scottish Ministers who ‘have to balance various interests in their Covid decision making’.
In The City of Edinburgh Council area between 24 November 2020 and 30 November 2020, 335 positive cases of Covid-19 were recorded. This equated to a 7 day positivity rate per 100,000 population of 63.8.
For the week to 9 December 2020 (the latest seven day period for which this information is available and a day after the latest review was announced) that positivity rate has risen to 92.8 with 487 positive cases recorded. You can read other figures over the last couple of weeks in our table below.
Allocation of levels
The government has explained the way it allocates levels to any of the 32 Scottish local authorities. Ministers consider a variety of ‘critical indicators including the number of cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, the percentage of positive tests over the same period and forecasts of the number of cases per 100,000″. This then helps inform the current and projected use of hospital and ICU beds. All of this data is publicly available on the Public Health Scotland website.
But The Scottish Government has also said that there are other considerations such as the prevalence of infection in neighbouring areas including ‘relevance of travel routes in and out of an area’ which fall to be considered at the weekly review. When the first Level was set on 2 November 2020 the figures below are the appropriate numbers under headers Cases per 100k, Test positivity, cases per 100K forecast, Hospital forecast, ICU forecast, present level and which led to the new level (actually the same as already applied) as at 2 November.
|Seven day period||7 day positive rate per 100,000 population||7 day Test positivity rate|
|to 2 November 2020||80.6||5.0%|
|to 28 November 2020||75.6||4.2%|
|to 29 November 2020||69.0||4.0%|
|to 30 November 2020||63.8||3.7%|
|to 1 December 2020||63.1||3.7%|
|to 2 December 2020||64.4||3.8%|
|to 3 December 2020||71.2||4.2%|
|to 4 December 2020||69.0||4.0%|
|to 5 December 2020||71.6||4.2%|
|to 6 December 2020||78.7||4.5%|
|to 7 December 2020||85.5||4.6%|
|to 8 December 2020||88.4||4.8%|
|to 9 December 2020||92.8||5.0%|
On a strict numerical basis, the number of cases per 100,000 people recorded in recent weeks does not mean that Edinburgh should be in Level Three – nor does the 7 day test positivity level.
The Scottish Government says that it sets Level 3 restrictions in an area based on these criteria:
- An area is considered for level 3 when it does not meet level 4 and it broadly meets one of the following conditions:
- a. between 150 and 300 cases over 7 days per 100,000 people for the local authority
- b. between 5% and 10% positive tests over 7 days for the local authority
- c. probability over 75% of 300 cases over 7 days per 100,000 forecast for the local authority in two weeks’ time
- d. the projection of hospital bed use in the health board in four weeks’ time is greater than the health board’s estimated capacity
- e. the projection of ICU bed use in the health board in three weeks’ time is greater than twice its normal capacity
The Scottish Government has also pronounced that: “Given the risk of harm from action intended to suppress the virus, decisions taken on the basis of this Framework and the consequent actions have to be justified, necessary and proportionate.”
And elsewhere: “In relation to decisions to allocate levels to local authority areas, the Framework is clear that they have to be based firmly in the best available evidence, assessed through a process that is open, transparent and collaborative and frequently reviewed so that restrictions are not kept in place longer than is strictly necessary to achieve the aim of suppressing the virus.”
But the government also stated that while data is critical, it is not in itself conclusive, and that wider considerations may well apply.
“These considerations include (but are not limited to):
Application of general principles of public health and effective disease control including the precautionary principle which may suggest caution in some circumstances and early intervention in others;
the prevalence of infection in neighbouring areas including relevance of travel routes in and out of an area;
trends in the data which may in some cases point to the need for a period of consolidation or stability before the allocation of a level can be reduced;
the effectiveness and sustainability of local public health measures including Test and Protect;
the relevance of “special cause” explanations such as particular outbreaks or events that may require more limited or specific action to suppress the virus;
that hospital capacity may need to be considered regionally and even nationally and not just locally.”
Edinburgh was retained in Level Three restrictions on 2 November 2020 when the Five Level system was introduced. These are the reasons given: “Consideration was given to allocating City of Edinburgh to level 2. Some signs of improvement in indicators was recognised along with the likely significant impact of further recent measures to restrict hospitality, which is a significant factor in the area. Modelling supporting indicator (c) predicts that Edinburgh is likely to continue to improve. It was therefore acknowledged that City of Edinburgh could aspire to future allocation at level 2. For the moment however given the status of the indicators it was judged too early to consider effectively reducing the level of restriction applied.
It was acknowledged that there was no basis in evidence presented to consider allocating City of Edinburgh to level 4. On that basis City of Edinburgh was allocated to level 3, to reflect need for continuation of approximately current levels of restriction.”
Most recent review on 8 December 2020
There was speculation that the city would be moved up to Level Two on 8 December, but that did not happen.
There has been discussion in Parliament, at the daily media briefing, on Twitter and at the recent council meeting about the Scottish Ministers’ decision and whether it was fair. It will be reviewed again as usual this Tuesday.
In Holyrood on Thursday 10 December the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon replied to a question from Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard about Edinburgh and the level applied here as follows: “Over the past seven days, the number of cases per 100,000 in Edinburgh has gone up by 14 per cent and test positivity has gone up by 0.5 per cent. Test positivity is still moderate in Edinburgh, but it has increased in five of the past seven days. The latest data show that case levels have increased in four of the past seven days. The health board breakdown of the case numbers that I reported to the Parliament a moment ago shows that Lothian accounts for the second biggest number of cases that we have reported today.
“These are serious decisions that have to be taken carefully. If case numbers are rising slightly or not declining significantly enough in an area, there is a risk in easing restrictions, because the danger is that the situation will very quickly run out of control. The Cabinet reached the judgment that taking Edinburgh down a level at this stage would pose a significant risk to the overall situation, which is why we did not do that. We will review the position again on Tuesday.
“We need only look across the world, across Europe and even across the United Kingdom right now to see what happens when restrictions are eased. As restrictions have been eased, there has been a slight increase in the number of cases in England, a dramatic increase in Wales and a bit of an increase in Northern Ireland. That is what we potentially face as we ease restrictions, so it is important that, before we do so, we ensure that the situation is as stable as possible.
“Given the data on Edinburgh that I have just shared with the chamber, I do not think that easing the restrictions this week would have been a safe or sensible decision. I understand why people in Edinburgh wanted that to happen but, in a couple of weeks, I think that they might have had a very different view.”
You can also see the latest numbers laid out visually on the Travelling Tabby website here. It is updated at 3pm daily.
LEVEL THREE RESTRICTIONS: