he number of patients in Scotland’s hospitals with coronavirus has reached a record high for the fifth consecutive day – with separate research indicating about one in 11 people north of the border could have had the virus last week, the highest proportion ever.
Scottish Government statistics showed that on Thursday there were 2,326 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, an increase of four from the previous day.
Meanwhile, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the proportion of people with the virus had increased in Scotland in the week ending March 20.
It estimated that 473,800 people were infected then – with this equating to about one in 11 people.
The figures were released after a second Scottish health board urged people not to come to accident and emergency unless their condition is either urgent or life-threatening.
After NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde issued such a plea earlier this week, bosses at NHS Lanarkshire said the virus meant hospitals are coming under “relentless” pressure.
On Thursday, Health Secretary, Humza Yousaf, warned MSPs that modelling showed the rising numbers of Covid patients in hospitals could continue “over the next couple or few weeks”
The dominance of the highly transmissible Omicron BA2 subvariant is the reason for this “unprecedented pressure” this brings, he said.
NHS Lanarkshire said on Friday its three acute hospitals are operating beyond capacity, and the situation is not easing.
Dr Jane Burns, the executive medical director, stated: “There are a number of reasons for the current relentless pressures on Lanarkshire hospitals but primarily it is the number of patients requiring treatment both with and without Covid.
“Our three acute hospital sites are beyond full with capacity regularly over 100%. This has been the case for a number of weeks and the situation is not easing.
“In fact, this week hospitals across Scotland including Lanarkshire have seen a record number of Covid patients.”
With coronavirus patients continuing to rise, Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, claimed that the NHS was “in the midst of a full-blown crisis due to the incompetence of the SNP”.
She hit out, saying: “NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde are telling people not to go to A&E because they are overwhelmed. NHS Lanarkshire is at breaking point, lives are being lost in A&E departments and Humza Yousaf is asleep at the wheel.
“Lives are being lost now – there can be no more deadly dither and delay from the SNP.”
She argued that “heroic NHS staff” working on the front line are in “dire need of urgent support”, as she added: “Failure to act will only lead to more lives being lost and this crisis persisting for months – this cannot be allowed to happen.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Conservative health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, said: “A second health board pleading with patients to stay away from A&E is a damning indictment of the crisis engulfing our NHS on Humza Yousaf’s watch.”
The Tory, who is also a GP, added: “NHS Lanarkshire has been on an emergency footing for months and heroic frontline staff are being let down at every turn by the Health Secretary.
“They are crying out for extra support to tackle deplorable A&E waiting times. Humza Yousaf cannot continue to rely on his flimsy NHS Recovery Plan from over six months ago.”