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Severity of Covid-19 falling as deaths after positive test decrease to 43%

Public Health Scotland has issued an update on the severity of Covid-19 in hospitals (Victoria Jones/PA)
Public Health Scotland has issued an update on the severity of Covid-19 in hospitals (Victoria Jones/PA)

The number of deaths attributed to Covid-19 following a positive test result has decreased to 43%, latest figures show.

Public Health Scotland released an update on the severity of the virus and its impact on Scotland’s hospitals on Tuesday.

The Omicron variant is currently the dominant strain in circulation, after first being detected in Scotland in December.

The latest report shows that from January to April this year, in deaths where there had been a positive result, 43% were considered to have been caused by Covid.

During the first wave of the pandemic, from March to June 2020, this figure stood at 94%.

This measure of deaths is no longer recorded by Public Health Scotland, with the main source of information on Covid-related deaths being National Records of Scotland.

Data showed that emergency hospital admissions who had acquired their infections in the community also decreased over the last few months, going from 78% in the week ending November 7 2021, to 59% in the week ending May 1 2022.

Public Health Scotland said this figure may be an overestimate on community-acquired infections, as information from NHS Grampian, which can routinely monitor admission causes in real time, showed the number of patients being admitted due to Covid infections fell from 57% in the first week of January to 20% in April.

There was also a reduction in the seven-day average for people being admitted with symptomatic infections, going from 31 per day in March to 21 in April.

Intensive care unit (ICU) admissions for patients testing positive and with a clinical diagnosis of the disease has seen a steep decline since the onset of the pandemic, going from more than 80% in the early phases to 29% since January 1 2022.

ICU clinical auditors say a positive PCR test on its own is insufficient in accuracy when it comes to identifying patients suffering with Covid-19, with less than 30% of people who test positive being admitted.

A clinical diagnosis of Covid-19 disease should be used going forward, Public Health Scotland said.

It also reported that the use of numbers of people in hospital with coronavirus at any one time was “problematic”, and was affected by case emergences that had a probable or definite hospital onset.

Such cases often had extended lengths of stay in hospitals before catching Covid-19, and so were not taking up additional beds due to the infection.

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