Questions concerning the recording of COVID-19 deaths: FOI release

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

Information requested

1. Information the Scottish government holds on the isolation of the virus which the pandemic has caused which is referred Specifically to as Sars-cov-2, Covid-19.

2. Please confirm if when referring to coronavirus and the cases of coronavirus Disease appearing in Scotland that are being reported are of the specific type of coronavirus that is referred to as SARS-cov-2 or Covid-19 or if these cases being reported by Scottish government refer to cases of all types of coronavirus.

3. Please confirm if the information on cases and deaths referring to the SARS-cov-2 or Covid-19 virus refer specifically to only people who have died only of that specific virus, or if the cases and death statistics also include people who have or had other types of coronavirus or people who may be showing symptoms of the specific Covid-19 strain SARS-cov-2 virus but not confirmed as having it as well as people dying of other causes but have been suspected of having Covid-19 therefore it is reported as such as well as people who at one point had Covid-19 and have died of other causes after they have had the virus. Are statistics showing all of the above or only specifically people who have had the specific strain of coronavirus referred to above as SARS-cov-2.


1. While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested in point 1 above because the Scottish Government are not routinely involved in such matters.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

However, you may wish to contact Public Health Scotland at, who may be able to help you. Or the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE) or the World Health Organisation (WHO), both of which publish papers on their respective websites.

2. When referring to coronavirus and the reporting of cases in Scotland, the Scottish Government is referring specifically to the SARS-COV-2 virus and cases where people in Scotland have tested positive for the presence of this virus.

3.  With regards to your question on reporting of deaths in relation to the SARS-COV-2 virus, there are two figures regularly reported;

Number of people who have died with confirmed COVID-19 (daily deaths. Public Health Scotland determines confirmed COVID-19 deaths by linking the daily National Records of Scotland (NRS) file for newly registered deaths to Electronic Communication of Surveillance in Scotland (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.

The number of deaths that have been registered in Scotland where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. This data from NRS include all deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate (either as the underlying cause or as a contributory factor). The figure is therefore higher than the PHS figure above, where COVID-19 has been confirmed in a recent positive test.

These are the current definitions at the time of this response. Further information on the definitions used in reporting can be found on our website here -



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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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