COVID-19: Activity in Scotland

April 23, 2020

Jason Oke, Carl Heneghan

Scotland produces Coronavirus (COVID-19) trends in daily data updates and death data.

This data provides dashboard information on  COVID-19 cases (desktop and mobile) and downloadable data that we have analysed. This data provides insights into the peak  of infections  and COVID related healthcare activities 

Numbers of calls to 111 and coronavirus helpline

The coronavirus helpline calls have fallen by 94.5%  (6,515): from a peak of 6,895 on the 23rd March to 380 on the 21st April. 

All calls to NHS 24 dropped by 75% (8,899) from a peak of 11,904 on the 23rd March to 3005 on the 21st April.

Ambulance attendances (COVID-19 suspected and transfers)

The peak of Ambulance call-out was the 6th of  April.

Ambulance attendances to suspected COVID patients have fallen by 59% (n = 381): from a peak of 650 on the 6th April to 269 on the 21st April. 

Ambulance transfers of suspected patients with COVID have dropped by a similar  amount, 57% (207) from a peak of 363 on the 6th to 156 on the 21st April.

The Number of people in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19

The peak occurred on the 31st  March and the numbers admitted have steadily dropped. On three occasions more patients who died or were discharged were greater than admissions (599 patients have delayed discharges as of the 21st April).   

We subtracted the cumulative bed day counts to estimate the admission or discharge numbers for daily bed numbers with confirmed or suspected COVID-19.  This figure includes those in ICU. The breakdown of confirmed or suspected was not collected before 26th March.

The Number of people in ICU with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 

The number of COVID-19 confirmed and suspected patients in intensive care units (ICU) or combined high dependency units (HDU) in Scotland rose from 42 on the 24th March to a peak of 208 on the 12th April and declined thereafter.

The latest figures show there were 155 (25% less than the peak) confirmed and suspected COVID-19 cases in ICU or ICU/HDU units on the 21st of April.

The data in the figure includes the number of people in ICUs across Scotland with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 (not the number of people admitted to ICU each day). The breakdown of confirmed or suspected was not collected before 26th March. 

Scottish Daily deaths 

The daily deaths peaked on the  9th of April  one day after the peak in England


The data are consistent with the peak of COVID activity in Scotland having passed. The date of the peaks follows a trajectory from a  community peak (23rd March); admissions to hospital beds (31st March); ambulance transfers (6th April); deaths the 9th April and ICU admissions the 12th of April.  

The Scottish data is an examplar of the data that should be made available in a pandemic  to assess transmission and activity.

See also:

Tracking mortality over time

Assessment of Mortality in the Covid-19 outbreak



Jason Oke is a senior statistician at the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences. (Bio  here)

Carl Heneghan is Professor of Evidence-Based Medicine, Director of the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine. (Full bio and disclosure statement  here)

Disclaimer:  the article has not been peer-reviewed; it should not replace individual clinical judgement, and the sources cited should be checked. The views expressed in this commentary represent the views of the authors and not necessarily those of the host institution, the NHS, the NIHR, or the Department of Health and Social Care. The views are not a substitute for professional medical advice.