Changes to COVID-19 case reporting
From today, 13 January 2022, in addition to reporting the number of people testing positive for COVID-19 through a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test, we will also begin reporting a combined figure for the number of people who have recorded a first positive PCR or an LFD (lateral flow device) test.
This change in reporting will ensure that we continue to provide the most accurate information available, following our announcement that people who do not have symptoms of COVID-19 no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm a positive LFD result.
Where can I access the data?
Headline figures on the updated case definition are available on our COVID-19 daily data webpage with more detailed analysis available on the PHS COVID-19 Daily Dashboard. We will also provide a daily breakdown including:
- PCR only cases
- LFD with confirmatory PCR cases
- LFD only cases.
We’ve updated our data definitions and sources page to reflect the changes.
These new statistics are presented by Public Health Scotland (PHS) as ‘experimental statistics’ which are official statistics that are published in order to involve users and stakeholders in their development and as a means to build in quality at an early stage. The data may also be subject to future revision as the new method for counting combined PCR and LFD tests evolves.
Initially this data will only be provided at a national level. Further work is underway in PHS to disaggregate this data to Health Board and Local Authority level. This should be available for public reporting over the course of next week on the PHS COVID-19 Daily Dashboard.
How does this differ from previous reporting?
Previous reporting on cases was based on PCR tests only, as those with positive LFDs would go on to receive a confirmatory PCR and then be reported in the case count.
We will continue to update the data on PCR tests and cases as previously published on the COVID daily data webpage and spreadsheets to allow users to monitor trends in PCR only cases. The positivity rate we report will continue to be based on PCR tests only.
How does this compare to reporting by other nations across the UK?
The updates to our case reporting in Scotland is in line with the approach in England who also include LFD positives in their headline case count.
You can access COVID-19 data for each nation, and the case definitions currently used, on the UK COVID-19 dashboard.
We encourage everyone to report their LFD test result online so that we can accurately understand and report the prevalence of COVID-19 and allow contacts of those with positive results to rapidly receive the correct advice to prevent onward spread.