Publication - Statistics

Coronavirus (COVID-19) data: definitions and sources

Published: 31 Jul 2020
Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 - see all updates

Explanatory definitions and notes providing information on the contents and terminology used in the Coronavirus (COVID-19) daily data publication.

Published:
31 Jul 2020
Coronavirus (COVID-19) data: definitions and sources

COVID 19 data: Background information

Measure

Sources, methods and things to note

Number of new cases

The number of new cases is the number of individuals who have had a new positive test result reported on the previous day. This refers to the date of the result and not the date of the test.

From 15 June 2020 this number includes people testing positive through the UK Government testing programme (regional testing centres, mobile testing units, care home portal and home kits). Prior to this, the figure only included tests carried out through NHS Scotland labs as the UKG data feed to Public Health Scotland was not yet established. If someone has tested positive through both routes, the first positive test is counted.

The trends data available for download show the figures that were previously reported on this website, by date they were reported. The figures before 15 June do not include results obtained through UK Government testing routes, as these were unavailable. Public Health Scotland have a dashboard that provides a full time series based on the date that people took their first test with a positive result, for NHS Scotland and UKG tests combined.

Number of people who have died with confirmed COVID-19

Public Health Scotland determines confirmed COVID-19 deaths by linking the daily NRS file for newly registered deaths to ECOSS data, and defines a confirmed COVID-19 death as an individual who dies within 28 days of their first positive COVID-19 laboratory report.  

This daily number of new deaths registered does not signify that this was their date of death, owing to the time allowed for families to register deaths in Scotland.

The difference between this daily measure and the weekly data from NRS, which also includes all deaths where COVID-19 is mentioned on the death certificate, is explained in the NRS weekly publication, available here: https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/covid19stats

This was updated on 31st July to align with the revised definition being used by PHS.

 

Number of people tested and number with positive and negative results.

Number of people tested refers to the total number of people who have been tested for COVID-19 in Scotland to date. Each person is only counted once regardless of repeat tests. The results refer to the number of individuals who have had a positive or negative test result.  

Prior to 15 June 2020, these results were solely based on information received into the Public Health Scotland ECOSS system reported by the laboratories in the 24 hours from 08:00 to 08:00 each day.

From 15 June, the totals also include people tested through the UK Government testing programme (regional testing centres, mobile testing units, care home portal and home kits). If someone has tested positive through both routes, only the first positive test is counted. 

The trends data available for download show the figures that were previously reported on this website. The total numbers of people tested and numbers testing positive and negative on 15 June include the backlog of results for people tested through UK Government testing routes. Public Health Scotland have a dashboard that provides a full time series, for NHS Scotland and UKG tests combined.

The number of confirmed cases per board is the number of people who live in each board who have tested positive. Where the place of residence is not recorded for an individual, the location where the test is done is assumed to be their board of residence.

Number of tests carried out through NHS labs

These figures are based on information received into the Public Health Scotland ECOSS system reported to HPS by the laboratories in the 24 hours from 08:00 to 08:00 each day. Data reported for a particular date will therefore refer to the previous day. Number of tests is total number of tests reported and may include more than one test on an individual.

Number of tests carried out through UK Government (UKG) testing programme.

Up until 7th July, the number of tests carried out through the Regional Testing Centres (RTCs) as part of the UK Government testing programme, and reported through Department of Health and Social Care based on data from the contractors who operate the centres. This included tests done at the drive through centres and mobile units, but not the care home portal or home testing kits.

From 8th July the number of tests refers to those where a result was reported into the HPS ECOSS system from the UKG labs as opposed to the number carried out. Void tests are no longer included. All routes for testing including care home portal and home testing kits are now included in the numbers. These have not been backdated so there is a discontinuity in the series.
Number of key workers tested This data is submitted as management information by NHS Boards to Public Health Scotland and intends to capture the number of key workers who are being tested through NHS Laboratories. The data does not include key workers or symptomatic family members who have been tested through the UK Government testing programme regional testing centres, mobile units and home testing. This management information does not include test results, but as the tests are conducted through NHS Laboratories the results will be included in the reported totals of number positive and negative but cannot be separately identified from this data source.

Number of patients in Intensive Care Units (ICU) with COVID-19

NHS Boards started to provide management information on the total number of patients in ICU with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from 18 March 2020, and the breakdown of suspected and confirmed ICU patients from 26 March 2020 with all Boards providing this breakdown from 27 March. This is intended to provide information on patients receiving ICU level 3 care

A small number of NHS Boards have some combined ICU/HDU units and provide information on those units. NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde have provided on confirmed cases only from the start. NHS Tayside had included a standalone HDU in returns before 7 April, these are no longer reported in the figures. The Scottish Government will continue to assess the potential data sources available on COVID-19 patients in receipt of level 3 care.

Number of patients in hospital with confirmed COVID-19

 

Number of patients in hospital with suspected COVID-19

NHS Boards provide Scottish Government with daily management information on the numbers of patients in acute hospitals beds with confirmed and suspected COVID-19 at midnight. This includes all patients in hospital, including in intensive care, and community and long stay hospitals.

NHS Boards started to provide data on the total number of patients in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 from 18 March 2020, and the breakdown of suspected and confirmed hospital and ICU patients from 26 March 2020 with all Boards providing this breakdown from 27 March (except NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde who provided confirmed cases only from the start).  Up until 4 May the total of confirmed and suspected cases in hospital was published together, however from 5 May onwards the numbers of confirmed and suspected cases in hospital are published separately due to a discontinuity in suspected figures, caused by the introduction of screening and testing of those aged 70 and over on admission to hospital.

From 29th April, NHS Boards started testing all patients aged over 70 on admission to hospital and every four days. This led to a discontinuity in the data series for number of people in hospital with suspected COVID-19, as in some areas everyone waiting for a test result is automatically included as suspected by the hospital information systems. Greater Glasgow & Clyde could not initially provide number of suspected cases, and these have not been included in the suspected totals.

The number of confirmed cases may include people who are in hospital for other reasons but have previously tested positive for COVID-19.

SG will continue to assess the methodology and data being provided by NHS Boards on COVID-19 patients in hospital.

Number of inpatients discharged with confirmed COVID-19

NHS Boards provide Scottish Government with aggregate Management Information on cumulative number of confirmed COVID-19 inpatients that have been discharged.  A single figure counted since 5th March 2020 is provided each day by each Health Board. This counts discharges from hospital where patients are alive, and have had a positive COVID-19 lab test in the 28 days in the run up to discharge. Patient transfers to hospitals within/across health boards are excluded.

Number of calls to 111

This data is provided by NHS24 on a daily basis.  The public are asked to call 111 if they have worsening COVID-19 symptoms which they are concerned about, or their symptoms aren’t improving.  They should also call 111 if they have concerns about other conditions and their GP practice is closed – because of this call volumes may be higher at the weekend when practices are closed.  The number of calls to 111 presented in this publication includes all calls to this line, whether or not they relate to COVID-19.  It includes calls trying to contact (abandoned) and people calling back more than once a day.

Number of calls to the Coronavirus helpline

This data is provided by NHS24 on a daily basis.

The Coronavirus helpline 0800 028 2816 is free and available to members of the public who don't have symptoms and are looking for general information.

 

Total ambulance attendances and those with suspected COVID-19

This data is provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service on a daily basis. The number of attendances is defined as the number of incidents recorded by SAS, where a resource arrived at the scene.  The number of attendances with suspected coronavirus is defined as the number of suspected Covid-19 incidents flagged by SAS, where a resource arrived at scene.

Number of people taken to hospital by ambulance with suspected COVID-19

This data is provided by the Scottish Ambulance Service on a daily basis. The number of people they took to hospital with suspected coronavirus is defined as the number of suspected Covid-19 incidents flagged by SAS, where a resource arrived scene and patient conveyed to hospital.

Number of delayed discharges

The number of people delayed in hospital are reported by Health and Social Care Partnerships every Monday to Friday. The data provided here is the best available at this point in time, but may be subject to further minor updates following quality assurance checks. Public Health Scotland also publish validated monthly delayed discharge data, released around 5 weeks after the end of the month.

Cumulative number of care homes that have reported a suspected COVID-19 case

 

Proportion of all adult care homes that have reported a suspected COVID-19 case

 

Cumulative number of care homes that have reported more than one case of suspected COVID-19

 

Cumulative number of suspected COVID-19 cases in care homes

 

Daily number of new suspected COVID-19 cases in care homes

This data is provided by the Care Inspectorate, who are notified of suspected COVID-19 cases by service providers.

Cases are self-reported by care providers and should be considered suspected COVID-19. Some cases may subsequently have a formal positive test, other cases after testing may prove not to be COVID-19 and some cases will not be tested

It is possible not all cases have been reported by all care homes, or there may be a delay in reporting.

All data is based on the date notified to the Care Inspectorate rather than the date of the event, and there may be a lag between these dates. Larger increases tend to occur the first few days of the week  as many care homes do not report over the weekend.

Some care homes were only notifying the Care Inspectorate of the first cases of suspected COVID-19 and therefore may be under reporting the number of cases. On the 17th April 2020, the Care Inspectorate asked care homes to notify every suspected case going forward. Caution is therefore required when considering trends over time.

It is important to note that not all of these care homes will still have outbreaks; see the number that that currently have outbreaks.

 

Number of care homes with current case of suspected COVID-19

 

Proportion of all adult care homes with current case of suspected COVID-19

From 22/04/20 onwards, the Care Inspectorate set-up a new notification for care homes to report when they no longer have a suspected case in their service. This mechanism are incorporated into the figures from 28/04/20 onwards.

The Care Inspectorate carried out a data review at the end of June due to concerns not all homes were notifying when they no longer had suspect cases. This found that a substantial number of care homes classified as having a current suspected case(s) had not notified the Care Inspectorate of a new suspected case for at least 28 days. 28 days is twice the extreme incubation period for the virus and considered the safest estimate of when a home could be declared free of COVID-19.

On this basis, from 29 June the Care Inspectorate has revised the definition of care homes with current suspected case to exclude any home that have not notified of a new case of suspected COVID for at least 28 days. 

Cases are self-reported by care providers and should be considered suspected COVID-19. Some cases may subsequently have a formal positive test, other cases after testing may prove not to be COVID-19 and some cases will not be tested

It is possible not all cases have been reported by all care homes, or there may be a delay in reporting.

All data is based on the date notified to the Care Inspectorate rather than the date of the event, and there may be a lag between these dates. Larger increases tend to occur the first few days of the week  as many care homes do not report over the weekend.

Number of care home staff and residents tested in the last week

This data is provisional management information submitted to Scottish Government (SG) by NHS Boards and details the number of people (i.e. staff and residents) tested in the last week. The number of of people tested captures all routes including those undertaken via NHS routes and those ordered via the Scottish social care portal.

The first three weeks’ data (for w/c 15th June, w/c 22 June and w/c 29 June) were based on a Monday - Sunday reporting cycle. Data for w/c 3rd July and onwards is based on a Friday - Thursday reporting cycle (with the exception of 3 Boards who made the transition the following week, w/c 10th July). The change was made to allow Boards extra time to collate better quality and more complete data to report on.

As a result, there is some temporal overlap in data from the majority of boards for the w/c 29 June and w/c 3 July (Friday 3 July - Sunday 5 July). To a lesser extent, this also applies to comparison between w/c 3 July and w/c 10 July, since 3 Boards applied the change a week later.

Figures are an undercount in some cases because data was not captured for each adult care home. SG is still working with NHS Boards to refine data reporting and also data capture.

The data suggests that, during w/c 17 July, there were at least 33 care homes with active confirmed cases in the last week.

The data for individual NHS Boards reflect local circumstances and therefore comparisons should not be made between NHS Boards.

From 1 July 2020, the Scottish Government is no longer publishing information on the number of tests for staff and residents that are analysed through the NHS labs. This data was previously provided by Health Boards to Public Health Scotland, and is considered increasingly incomplete due to the number of testing routes now available (beyond samples being analysed in NHS labs).

We will continue to analyse, report, and publish the number of staff and residents that have been tested on a weekly basis from the data that is submitted by Health Boards to the Scottish Government. We believe this return provides a fuller and more accurate picture of care home staff and resident testing.
Number of deaths of health and social care workers related to COVID-19 Health Boards and the Care Inspectorate notify the Scottish Government of those in the health and social care workforce who have died for reasons related to COVID-19. The cumulative totals are published each Wednesday. The figures include those who may not have been at work for some time e.g. those ‘shielding’ at home. Even for those at work, it cannot be determined with certainty where COVID-19 was acquired. The notification of deaths by Health Boards and the Care Inspectorate is according to the information they have at the time – they may not have full details of each death available. The figures will exclude any deaths where they were unaware that this may have been due to COVID-19.
Number of NHS staff absent for COVID-19 related reasons

This data is provided each day by NHS National Services Scotland on behalf of 21 NHS Boards, and by the Scottish Ambulance Service separately. It covers hospitals and community health services, and excludes those working in general practice. All staff-in-post are included – both those on the frontline and those who may not have patient contact.

Accuracy and completeness is dependent on staff who directly deliver patient services, and administrators, inputting absence data into the NHS Scotland national time and attendance system (SSTS). The figures cover all staff recorded as absent on the system, irrespective of whether they were due to be at work on that particular day.

Recording processes vary between Boards and service areas. In particular, the timing of absence recording will vary, and some absences may not be recorded timeously. We will consider whether it is necessary to update the data for previous days where there is a material change in the reported absence due to a delay in recording. We understand that services are under high pressure, and therefore data will be monitored closely. If necessary, publishing of staff absence data may need to be amended or delayed.

In contrast to the data for adult care homes, stress related to COVID-19 would be recorded as sick leave, and not included here.
Number of staff absent in adult care homes due to COVID-19

This data is reported by care homes to the Care Inspectorate on a weekly basis, via a survey made available each Tuesday, from 21 April 2020. The data only includes survey forms submitted that day.

Reasons for absences related to COVID-19 include those self-isolating, shielding, stress related to COVID-19, at home with symptoms of COVID-19, at home with confirmed (by test) COVID-19, in hospital with symptoms of COVID-19 and in hospital with confirmed (by test) COVID-19.

The data covers all staff recorded as absent on the system, irrespective of whether they were due to be at work on that particular day.

Number of individuals advised to shield This data is provided by Public Health Scotland on a weekly basis. It is the number of individuals identified as at high clinical risk of Covid-19 and advised to shield, as defined by the four UK Chief Medical Officers. For more information, see here .
Percentage of individuals advised to shield who died This data is provided by Public Health Scotland on a weekly basis. It is the number of individuals who received a shielding letter and who were subsequently identified as having died. The date of death may have been before or after the shielding letter was received.
Number of individuals currently registered with the shielding SMS service This data is provided by NES Digital Service. It is the number of individuals who have texted the SMS service and correctly provided their CHI number to register.
Number of shielding individuals who are signed up for food box delivery This data is provided by NES Digital Service. It is the number of shielding individuals signed up for weekly food box deliveries either via SMS registration or by contacting their local authority.
Number of shielding individuals who are signed up for priority supermarket delivery This data is provided by NES Digital Service. It is the number of shielding individuals signed up for priority supermarket delivery either via SMS registration or by contacting their local authority.
First published: 31 Jul 2020 Last updated: 29 Jul 2020 -