COVID-19 related information regarding previous and future Health Protection Regulations: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.

Information requested

1. What is the 14 (or 7)-day incidence of reported cases (per 100k) in the Council of Aberdeen City (7/14-day cumulative number of COVID-19 cases per 100k)

2. What is the Scottish Governments benchmark for new local lockdown restrictions? It couldn’t be just arbitrarily.

3. On which facts is the dangerousness of the SARS-CoV2 based? Has the Scottish Government adjusted its SARS-CoV2 risk assumptions since March 2020 based on new scientific evidence?

3a. Does the infection fatality rate (IFR) play a role on the assessment of dangerousness?

3b. What’s the IFR that the Scottish Government uses in it’s assumptions and where does it come from?

3c. Whats the IFR for influenza and influenza like infections in Scotland (or the UK) over the past 5 years?

4. On what scientific evidence is the 5 mile travel restriction advice based? There must be a good evidence of risk improvement with a major restriction of fundamental citizen rights.

4a. How has the Scottish Government been advised if a 5 mile travel ban can be legislated and made enforceable?

5. How many of the recent positive cases from Aberdeen City are infected and show symptoms?

5a. How many of the recent positive cases from Aberdeen City have been hospitalised?

6. Which PCR tests are being used in Scotland (manufacturer and type)?

7. Under which circumstances will such a PCR test count as a positive test?

8. Can you please provide the number of SARS-CoV2 tests in Aberdeen City area (or Grampian NHS) per day over the past months.


1. This data is publicly available from the Public Health Scotland website: Tableau Public

To observe the numbers for the period of interest, select the cases by neighbourhood tab, select Aberdeen City Local Authority (or NHS Grampian for Health Board level numbers) and use the slider to change the number of days range you wish to view and this will produce the positive rates per 100,000 population. This is formal notice under section 17 that this information is not held by the Scottish Government.

2. On 23 April 2020 the Scottish Government published Coronavirus (COVID-19): framework for decision making. This set out the issues Scotland was facing. It outlined the approach and principles that would guide us as decisions were made about transitioning out of the lockdown arrangements. Further updates were made available

Our decision making around lockdown on 23 March 2020 and in responding to COVID-19 has, and continues to be, guided by the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) and Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M), which feeds into SAGE.

Advice from SAGE is not routinely published, however minutes from SAGE meetings are published on the UK Government website. Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies - GOV.UK (

Scottish Ministers receive further advice from the Scottish CMO and the Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group. Information on the group, including members and minutes are published on the Scottish Government website. Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group - (

In addition, the Scottish Government published the Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic in Scotland report on 21 May. This report, which is updated weekly, presents the approach taken by the Scottish Government in modelling the COVID-19 epidemic in Scotland, both in terms of the spread of the disease through the population (epidemiological modelling) and of the demands it will place on the system, for example in terms of health care requirements.

You can find the latest report here: Coronavirus (COVID-19): modelling the epidemic (issue no. 29) - (

3, 3a & b. All of our decision making in the approach to responding to Covid-19 is guided by the latest scientific evidence from the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE), advice from Health Protection Scotland and our Interim Chief Medical Officer, who provide advice on the effectiveness and suitability of our response.

3c. The Scottish Government does not hold this information. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) that we do not have this information. Public Health Scotland are responsible for the surveillance and monitoring of infectious diseases and publish regular respiratory surveillance reports. This information is publicly available and can be found here:

4. I refer you to the answer to question 2 above.

4a. I have interpreted this question to be asking about legal advice and as such, an exemption under section 30(b)(i) and (ii) (free and frank exchange of advice and views) of FOISA has been applied to the information you have requested. This is because disclosure would, or would be likely to, inhibit substantially the free and frank exchange of views and provision of advice. This exemption recognises the need for officials to have a private space in which to provide free and frank advice to other officials. Disclosing the content of free and frank provision of advice or exchange of views in relation to an investigation would substantially inhibit the provision of such advice, or the exchange of such views, in the future.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is a greater public interest in allowing officials a private space within which to explore and refine the process and procedure by which investigations are conducted. This private thinking space is essential to enable all information and options to be properly considered. Disclosure is likely to undermine the quality of this process, which would not be in the public interest.

5. The Scottish Government does not hold information about the number of cases displaying symptoms. This is a formal notice under section 17(1) that this information is not held. However information on daily positive cases is publicly available and can be accessed from:

5a. Under Section 25 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 (FOISA) (see Annex B), we do not have to disclose information that the requester can reasonably obtain without asking under FOISA. However, for the fullness of this response I have provided the relevant links and information below. Public Health Scotland publishes information on hospital beds in Scotland. A quarterly publication is available at

The number of inpatients with Covid-19 in hospital and ICU is published each day on the Scottish Government website at

6. The Scottish Government does not hold this level of information.  This is a formal notice under section 17(1) that this information is not held.  The UK Government has established a network of COVID testing facilities. This programme runs alongside the existing programme of testing for clinical purposes and testing of key workers in health and social care.  In Scotland testing is undertaken by NHS Scotland with NHS labs operating in all 14 health board areas as well as additional UK Government capacity through the Lighthouse Lab network, including the Glasgow Lighthouse Lab, with Public Health Scotland responsible for the monitoring and surveillance of infectious diseases.  

You may find it helpful to note that you can request information from Public Health Scotland via Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulation (EIR) requests - Contact us - Public Health Scotland

You may also find the following guidance of interest: Coronavirus (COVID-19): getting tested in Scotland - (

7. The tests being used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Scotland are real-time RTPCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) assays which are the gold standard for respiratory viruses, as well as a range of other viral pathogens. The assays in use for SARS-CoV-2 have been designed to target a section of the SARS-COV-2 genetic material which is specific to the virus, therefore the positive result is for SARS-CoV-2 only. Further information can be found in the COVID-19 Laboratory testing frequently asked questions document which can be accessed here: 

Public Health Scotland have produced guidance for sampling and laboratory investigations which includes protocols for reporting SARS COV-2 PCR positives during periods of low transmission prevalence: HPS Website - COVID-19 - guidance for sampling and laboratory investigations (

8. I refer you to the answer to question 1 (above).

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

Back to top