2. Understanding the status of the virus in Scotland
Scotland is moving in to a new phase of the COVID 19 pandemic. Through a rigorous and consistent approach we have significantly reduced community transmission. The role of non-pharmaceutical interventions, and particularly the restriction on movement and socialising, has effectively prevented the virus from spreading.
On average each new case is only passing the virus onto less than one other person. So the reproductive number (R) has now dropped consistently below 1. At the beginning of July 2020, it is estimated that there will be around 80 (within a range of 50-115) new cases a day and around 1000 (within a range of 600-1400) individuals infected with the virus – this is referred to as prevalence of the virus. Prevalence is falling by around 25-30% per week.
The number of new COVID-19 cases recorded each day has dropped dramatically from its peak in April and there has been a sustained decline in new hospital and ICU admissions for confirmed cases. We also continue to see a sustained decline in COVID-19 deaths. A total of 13 deaths were registered where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate in the latest week (6-12th July). Deaths registered in the latest week are 2% of the peak of 661 between 20th – 26th April.
We must not be complacent, especially as we look ahead into the Winter months and the clear warnings associated with any second wave. The whole Surveillance and Response approach is about remaining vigilant and, if we continue do so, we are in a position to push toward the elimination of the virus in our communities.
There are many factors that may not make that possible, but we must explore every opportunity to suppress the virus to as close as possible to zero cases over a sustained period. Our precision public health services like Surveillance and Response, and Test and Protect, are essential to this.
Gathering and interpreting data and monitoring change is a key component of good surveillance and the approach that we are taking to do this is set out further in Section 3.