Last updated: 25 November 2020

Here is detailed information on current evidence for direct and indirect health impacts, and social and economic impacts, of COVID-19.

You can find explanatory detail on the evidence for each impact, the data sources and (where applicable) methodology for this evidence, and any caveats that should be taken into account when interpreting or using these figures.





1. Direct health impacts

R number

On 18 November, R in Scotland was estimated to be between 0.8 and 1.

The R value is estimated to be between 0.8 and 1, meaning the epidemic is slowly reducing.

For the number of infectious people to fall we need to keep the R number consistently below 1. A sustained increase above 1 indicates exponential growth in the number of cases, leading to increased hospitalisations and deaths, and causing very significant harm to Scotland’s health, society and economy should prevalence be at an elevated level.

This is why it is important to remain vigilant and respond quickly to any outbreaks and increases in cases. The R number can be thought of as the average number of people that each infected person passes the virus on to.

Source: Scottish Government

Methodology: SAGE Consensus





New infections

As of 18 November, COVID-19 incidence in Scotland was estimated to be between 42 and 122 new daily infections per 100,000 people.

This equates to between 2,300 and 6,700 people becoming infected each day in Scotland.

The various groups which report to the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (SPI-M) use different sources of data in their models to produce estimates of incidence. The figures here show SPI-M’s consensus view across these methods.

Source: Scottish Government

Methodology: SPI-M Consensus





Cases

The number of new COVID-19 cases has decreased over the last week.

There were over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed each week in April. From the peak in late April there was a sustained decline and by early July there were fewer than 60 new cases in a week, even in the context of increased testing. After 13 consecutive weeks of increasing cases, reaching over 10,000 in the week ending 26 October, there was a decrease in the weekly number of cases to just over 7,000 in the week to 22 November. The chart shows the cases by the date they were reported.

The World Health Organisation recommends looking at several indicators when considering whether the epidemic is controlled. This data is needed to keep track of new positive cases and to monitor the progression and impact of the virus in Scotland.

These figures will be an underestimate of the number of cases. Not everyone with COVID-19 will display symptoms and not all those with symptoms will be tested.

In addition, while the number of positive cases is higher than in the April 2020 peak, a greater number of tests are now being completed, with, for example, around 120,000 to 130,000 per week in October compared to 10,000 to 20,000 per week in April. Testing capacity has also increased and Scotland is on track to increase overall testing capacity to 65,000 tests per day by winter. In addition, the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey now indicates an estimated 1 in 135 would have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the latest two week period (31 October to 6 November).

Source: SG open data platform

Methodology: Case count is number of cases reported by diagnostic laboratories to Health Protection Scotland as of 08:00 (GMT) on each date. Prior to 15 June, the number of Covid-19 cases are for those confirmed only by a NHS Scotland laboratory. From 15 June the numbers include a further 2,246 people tested positive through the UK Government testing programme.





Deaths

COVID-19 deaths have fallen slightly after increasing for seven consecutive weeks.

After peaking at 661 in the week ending 26 April, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 reduced, although began to increase again in late September.

The World Health Organisation recommends looking at several indicators when considering whether the epidemic is controlled. One of these is a decline in the number of deaths among confirmed and probable cases at least for the last 3 weeks.

As of 22 November, there have been a total of 5,380 deaths registered where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. The first mention of COVID-19 in a registered death certificate was the week beginning 16 March 2020. In the most recent week (16 to 22 November), there were 244 deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, a decrease of 35 from the previous week (9 to 15 November). 67 of these deaths took place in care homes, 160 in hospitals, and 17 at home or a non-institutional setting .

Source: National Records of Scotland

Methodology: The figures in this publication focus on deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate (either as a confirmed or suspected cause of death).





COVID-19 hospital admissions

COVID-19 hospital admissions have decreased over the last week.

The average number of COVID-19 hospital admissions per day is lower than the peak of over 170 in the first week of April. After admissions increased over September and October to an average of over 110, they have now decreased to an average of 71 COVID-19 admissions per day in week up to 13 November.

COVID-19 hospital admission numbers give an indication of the impacts the virus is having on the NHS. This is an important measure for tracking the progress of the virus and helps to assess ongoing COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 pressures on the NHS.

Source: Public Health Scotland

Methodology: Data from Public Health Scotland. Based on those who were either COVID-19 positive up to 14 days before their admission or had a positive result during their stay.





2. Indirect health impacts

A&E attendances

A&E attendances fell after lockdown but have increased since the end of March.

The number of A&E attendances decreased to 40% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 29 March. Since then, A&E attendances increased steadily and have remained between 75% and 90% of normal levels since the week ending 21 June. The latest data shows that A&E attendances are at 75% of normal levels.

A&E attendance numbers give an indication of the wider impacts COVID-19 is having across the NHS. The number of people attending A&E dropped to a low point in the week ending 29 March 2020. Since then, A&E attendances have been increasing steadily. The 'NHS is Open' campaign was launched on 24 April to encourage members of the public not to delay seeking medical advice.

Source: NHSScotland open data platform

Methodology: Does not include attendances to Minor Injury Units. Data from Public Health Scotland. Additional breakdowns (e.g. by Health Board) are available via the referenced source. From October, this data will be updated once per month.





Excess deaths

Deaths are 20% above the normal level.

After peaking at 878 in the week ending 12 April, the number of excess deaths has reduced. For the most recent week (ending 22 November) deaths are 20% above the normal level.

Excess deaths are the total number of deaths registered in a week in 2020 minus the average number of deaths registered in the same week over the period 2015 to 2019. Measuring excess deaths allows us to track seasonal influenza, pandemics and other public health threats. Excess deaths include deaths caused by COVID-19 and those resulting from other causes. In this chart, excess deaths are shown by the difference between the grey line, which shows the weekly average for deaths over the previous 5 years (2015 – 2019), and the blue line showing total deaths in 2020.

The other blue line on this chart is labelled ‘COVID-19 deaths 2020’ - this shows weekly totals for the number of COVID-19 deaths. Presenting this alongside ‘total deaths 2020’ shows the extent to which COVID-19 deaths have contributed to the number of excess deaths in 2020, and the extent to which the number of excess deaths may be attributable to other causes or indirectly caused by COVID-19. In the week ending 26 April, there were 661 COVID-19 deaths that contributed to an overall total of 1,836 deaths. The 5 year weekly average tells us that we would typically expect 1,087 deaths in that week – there is a difference (or ‘excess’) of 749, of which 661 were related to COVID-19.

Source: National Records of Scotland

Methodology: Excess deaths are the total number of deaths registered in a week in 2020 minus the average number of deaths registered in the same week over the period 2015 to 2019.





Emergency and planned admissions

After lockdown there was a fall in emergency and planned hospital admissions. Since 29 March, emergency admissions have increased. Since 19 April, planned admissions have increased.

The number of emergency admissions dropped to 60% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 29 March. Since then, emergency admissions increased and have remained between 85% and 95% of normal levels since the week ending 21 June. Latest data shows emergency admissions are at 90% of normal levels. The number of planned hospital admissions dropped to 27% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 19 April. The number of planned admissions has been increasing gradually since then, rising to 80% of normal levels at mid October. The week ending 25 October saw a slight dip, with planned admissions at 71% of normal levels.

Hospital admission numbers give an indication of the wider impacts COVID-19 is having across the NHS. The number of emergency admissions dropped to a low point in the week ending 29 March; the number of planned hospital admissions dropped to a low point in the week ended 19 April. All elective procedures were suspended when lockdown began. Emergency and planned admission numbers have since increased. The 'NHS is Open' campaign was launched on 24 April to encourage members of the public not to delay seeking medical advice.

Public Health Scotland publishes a dashboard which presents more information on the wider impacts COVID-19 is having on the health care system. It provides information on hospital admissions, unscheduled care and volume of calls to NHS24. You can view the data presented by age, sex, deprivation quintile, specialty, elective versus emergency and by geographical location.

Source: NHSScotland open data platform

Methodology: Data from Public Health Scotland. Additional breakdowns (e.g. by Health Board) are available via the referenced source. From October, this data will be updated once per month.





People avoiding contacting GPs

A substantial minority are reluctant to contact a GP practice at the moment for immediate non-COVID-19 health concerns.



The proportion of people who agree that they would avoid contacting a GP practice at the moment for immediate non-COVID-19 health concerns is stable at 27%.

There has been a reluctance from people to seek non-COVID-19 healthcare treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. Evidence suggests that since the end of October between 25-28% of people agreed or strongly agreed that they would avoid contacting a GP practice at the moment even if they had an immediate medical concern (not related to Coronavirus). Responses were broadly similar across different groups of the population.

Source: YouGov Plc

Methodology: Web panel survey. Total sample size is c. 1000 adults each week. Fieldwork undertaken from 21-23 April onwards, weekly. This question was included from 27-28 October, replacing a previous question asking whether people would avoid the GP/hospital. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+).





3. Societal impacts

Education

On 18 November the percentage of school openings where pupils were not in school for COVID-19 related reasons was 4.3%.

From 11 August, schools started to re-open and pupils began to return to school. Provisional figures for 18 November show that the overall attendance rate at local authority primary, secondary and special schools that are open was 89.2%. The percentage of school openings where pupils were not in school for COVID-19 related reasons has increased from around 2% at the end of September to 4.3% on 18 November. The absence rate for non COVID-19 related reasons rose to 12.3% on 28 August, but has since fallen to 6.5% on 18 November. Data will be affected by public and school holidays, in particular the week beginning 12 October, where schools in 29 local authorities were closed for the October break and so were not included in these statistics. Scottish Government Education Analytical Services publishes a dashboard which contains additional information on school attendance and absence.

Schools were closed in March due to COVID-19 restrictions. Throughout lockdown, children and young people whose parents/carers are key workers, and vulnerable children and young people, had access to care and schooling in settings outside of the home. This was so that key workers could continue with their work, and vulnerable children and young people had access to safe support and learning. The number of children and young people at education settings gradually increased throughout lockdown, but remained a very low proportion of all children and young people. Scottish Government Education Analytical Services publishes a dashboard which presents information on this.

Source: Scottish Government COVID-19: daily data for Scotland

Methodology: This information is provisional and currently based on Local Authority schools only (primary, secondary and special schools). The attendance and absence rates are calculated on the number of half days (i.e. openings) a child or young person is recorded being in or out of school (together with the reason for not being in school), as recorded on school management information systems. The number of children and young people who are absent due to COVID-19-related reasons is based on counting any child or young person who is recorded as being absent due to a COVID-19-related reason for all or part of the day (i.e. all day, or for half a day).





Crisis grants

Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant applications were 30% higher in September 2020 than in September 2019.

The Scottish Welfare Fund is administered by local authorities. Crisis grants aim to help people who are in crisis because of a disaster or an emergency.

In March 2020 demand for crisis grants started increasing rapidly compared to previous years and peaked in April 2020. This suggests that more people were experiencing emergencies (such as income or benefits being used up, or money being stolen) or disasters (such as fires or floods). It is likely that the increase in applications is due to financial hardship resulting from COVID-19. Demand for crisis grants reduced from May to September 2020, but remained higher than in the same months in 2019.

Source: Scottish Government

Methodology: Figures are collected from local authorities at the end of each month and combined to Scotland level.





Crime

Since lockdown there has been an overall reduction in crime recorded by police.

The overall number of crimes recorded by the police between April to October 2020 was 7% lower than the same period in 2019. In April 2020 recorded crime was 18% lower than April 2019. For the most recent month - October 2020 - recorded crime was 8% lower than in September 2019.

Changes in police recorded crime is one indicator of the impact that the COVID-19 restrictions are having across society. For example, while there has been a reduction in violence and sexual crime in April to October (compared to the same period in 2019), there has been an increase in fraud. Some caution is advised before attributing all differences to COVID-19. Longer term trends, which existed before the pandemic, may remain a factor in some types of offending recorded by the police.

Source: Recorded Crime in Scotland: October 2020

Methodology: The total figure for recorded crime excludes the new crimes being recorded under the recently enacted coronavirus legislation. See the source publication for more information.





Loneliness

People report high levels of loneliness, even as restrictions on socialising have eased slightly.

In Ipsos MORI surveys carried out between May and July 2020 between 53-59% felt lonely some/most/almost all or all of the time. This indicator is now measured by YouGov surveys with the same question, but slightly different sampling method and 44-52% of people said they experienced loneliness in the four survey waves carried out in July through to September. It is now at 49%.

The lockdown period has been associated with higher than usual levels of reported loneliness. The majority of people report feeling lonely at least some of the time in the previous week. This has persisted even as restrictions on social gatherings have eased slightly. People aged 18-44 are more likely to have felt lonely at least some of the time than those aged 45+.

Source: YouGov

Methodology: Web panel survey. Total sample size is c. 1000 adults each week. Fieldwork undertaken from 28 July onwards, weekly. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+) in terms of age, gender, social class, region and level of education . Previous trends on this measure were taken from Ipsos Mori surveys, which had a smaller sample size (c500-650) and were representative of Scottish adults (aged 16-74) in terms of age and gender. In July the questions were transferred to a YouGov survey to consolidate our data collection across Scottish Government teams and research needs.





Trust in Scottish Government

There are consistently high levels of trust in the Scottish Government.

Since mid-May, the proportion of people who said they trusted the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests, in Ipsos MORI surveys was between 73% and 79%. This is now measured by YouGov survey using the same question and with a similar measure, and is 71% this wave.

Evidence suggests consistently high levels of trust in the Scottish Government. Since mid-May, around three quarters to four fifths of people have said they trust the Scottish Government to work in Scotland’s best interests. Women are more likely than men to say they trust the Scottish Government a great deal/quite a lot to work in Scotland’s best interests.

Source: YouGov

Methodology: Web panel survey. Total sample size is c. 1000 adults each week. Fieldwork undertaken from 28 July onwards, weekly. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+) in terms of age, gender, social class, region and level of education . Previous trends on this measure were taken from Ipsos Mori surveys, which had a smaller sample size (c500-650) and were representative of Scottish adults (aged 16-74) in terms of age and gender. In July the questions were transferred to a YouGov survey to consolidate our data collection across Scottish Government teams and research needs.





Perceived threat to jobs

Around one quarter of employees are worried about the threat COVID-19 poses to their job.

People who are employed were asked how worried they are about the impact of COVID-19 on their job. Consistent with previous weeks, 22% report a perceived 'high' or 'very high' threat to their job.

The measures introduced to control the spread of COVID-19 have involved the shutdown of many parts of the economy. Recent waves of data collection show that around a fifth perceive a 'high' or 'very high' threat to their job.

Source: YouGov

Methodology: Web panel survey. Total sample size is c. 1000 adults each week. Fieldwork undertaken from 14 July onwards, weekly. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all Scottish adults (aged 18+) in terms of age, gender, social class, region and level of education . We previously presented analysis on a similar measure from a different source. Since the sources are not directly comparable we are only showing newer data from YouGov.





Transport

The number of people saying they are concerned about people contracting or spreading COVID-19 on public transport remains high.

There has been a consistently high number of people saying they are 'very' or 'fairly' concerned about people contracting or spreading COVID-19 on public transport. This peaked during lockdown at 82%. At the most recent measure, 75% of people agreed with this.

There is a high level of concern about people contracting or spreading COVID-19 when using public transport, and about being able to observe physical distancing on public transport. Women demonstrate consistently higher concern about people contracting or spreading the virus on public transport than men - this may reflect that women typically have less access to a car than men, and are more likely to be more reliant on public transport, particularly buses. Some people have more access to alternatives to public transport than others. Households with a higher income are more likely to have access to a car or a van. People from lower income households are more reliant on public transport and active travel e.g. walking. Considering whether a journey is necessary, whether active travel is an option, and whether a journey could be made on public transport at non-peak times of day, could reduce the risk posed to those who need to use public transport at specific times.

Source: Transport Scotland Public Attitudes Survey

Methodology: Telephone survey





4. Economic impacts

Monthly Business Turnover Index (MBTI)

Turnover has strengthened but remains below pre-pandemic levels.

All Industries

Manufacturing and Services

Services industries

In September, Scotland's business turnover index was 41.4. This is up from 34.4 in August, but remains significantly below its normal range of around 45 to 55 seen since 2011.

Business turnover data for September indicate that there was an increase in business activity over the month but that total output remained lower than last year. The turnover index strengthened in each of the previous five months, from the lowest value of 18.7 in April, and is in keeping with other business indicators reflecting the ongoing easing of restrictions on activity and gradual recovery in business activity over the third quarter. However, the broad based falls in business turnover compared to last year continue to emphasise the challenging trading environment that many businesses are facing.

Source: Scottish Government

Methodology: The Monthly Business Turnover Index is an experimental statistics release. It is based on data from the ONS Monthly Business Survey and Retail Sales Inquiry. It reports the net balance of firms reporting increasing or decreasing turnover, in real terms, compared to 12 months ago. Values below 50 indicate that more companies are showing decreased turnover than increased turnover.





Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

GDP has grown in recent months following unprecedented falls in output.

In August, Scotland's GDP grew 2.6% (UK: 2.1%). This is the fourth consecutive month of growth, however GDP remains 9.4% below its level in February (UK: 9.2%).

The pandemic and necessary restrictions are having an unprecedented impact on the economy. Scotland’s GDP increased by 2.6% in August, the fourth consecutive month of growth following the large drops in March (-5.2%) and April (-19.5%). However, like the UK as a whole, the pace of growth in August was slower compared to June (6.0%) and July (6.4%). Despite growth in the last four months, GDP remains 9.4% below its level in February, prior to lockdown measures. Compared to the lowest point in April, this means that around 60% of the lost output has been recovered.

Source: Scottish Government

Methodology: Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest and most widely used measure of economic activity. Changes in GDP over time are estimated using information about the output of each industry across all sectors of the economy. Monthly GDP estimates are experimental statistics, which means that they are still in development but have been released to enable their use at an early stage. All results are provisional and subject to relatively high levels of uncertainty. Further information can be found at www.gov.scot/gdp.





Unemployment

The unemployment rate was 4.5% in July to September.

In July to September, Scotland's unemployment rate was 4.5% (UK: 4.8%). This is no change on the quarter and up 0.5 percentage points over the year.

The unemployment rate compares well against historical trends, however the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme supported around 10% of the workforce at the end of August. Based on the Labour Force Survey, the unemployment rate for women is 4.2% and for men is 4.9%. The unemployment rate for young people (16 to 24 years) is 14.3%. The overall unemployment rate is projected to rise with business surveys signalling further reductions in staffing levels into October.

Source: Scottish Government [Office for National Statistics]

Methodology: The unemployment rate shows the proportion of the economically active population (age 16 years +) who are unemployed (seeking work and available to work).





Claimant Count

The Claimant Count has increased sharply since March.

In October, Scotland's Claimant Count was 214,800. This fell 1.4% over the month however is 93% higher than in March.

The Claimant Count measures the number of people claiming benefit principally for the reason of being unemployed. The sharp rise in the Claimant Count from March signals that unemployment is rising and incomes are falling. Latest data shows 214,800 claimants of unemployment related benefit in October and a claimant count rate of 7.7%. This consists of 133,500 males (8.9% rate) and 81,300 females (6.2% rate).

Source: Scottish Government Office for National Statistics

Methodology: The Claimant Count data is experimental and includes those claimants of Universal Credit who are required to search for work, i.e. within the Searching for Work conditionality regime as defined by the Department for Work & Pensions, as well as all Jobseekers Allowance claimants.