Last updated: 24 February 2021

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 17 February, R in Scotland was estimated to be between 0.7 and 0.9.

This week's estimated R value of between 0.7 and 0.9 means that the epidemic is likely to be reducing. This is the same as last week.

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 17 February, COVID-19 incidence in Scotland was estimated to be between 0 and 96 new daily infections per 100,000 people.

This week's estimated COVID-19 incidence of between 0 and 96 new daily infections per 100,000 people equates to between 0 and 5,200 people becoming infected each day in Scotland. This range is wider than last week.

This indicator was not available before 12 August 2020.

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 for six and a half weeks.

There were over 2,000 new cases of COVID-19 confirmed each week in April 2020. From the first peak in late April 2020 there was a sustained decline and by early July 2020 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 2020, there was a decrease in the weekly number of cases to just over 5,200 in the week ending 19 December 2020. Cases then increased rapidly to a peak of over 16,200 cases in the week ending 7 January 2021. Cases have since decreased to under 5,700 cases in the week ending 21 February 2021. 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.

While the number of positive cases is higher than in the April 2020 peak, a greater number of tests are now being completed as we now have additional facilities for sampling and testing. In early January 2021 an average of over 150,000 tests have been completed per week, compared to 10,000 to 20,000 tests per week in April 2020. In addition, NHS testing capacity has increased significantly with the opening of 2 of the 3 regional testing hubs. Scotland now has capacity to process over 65,000 samples per day as committed to in the Testing Strategy.

The ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey now indicates an estimated 1 in 180 would have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the latest week period (6th - 12th February 2021). This equates to around 29,200 people.

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 decreased by 11% in the latest week.

After peaking at 279 in the week ending 15 November, the number of deaths involving COVID-19 reduced but at a much slower rate than after the spring peak. Deaths increased sharply in the first few weeks of 2021 but have now fallen for 4 consecutive weeks.

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 21 February 2021, there have been a total of 9,347 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 (15 to 21 February), there were 290 deaths where COVID-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, a decrease of 35 from the previous week (8 to 14 February). 235 of these deaths took place in hospitals, 34 in care homes, 20 at home or a non-institutional setting and 1 in another institution type.

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 month.

The average number of COVID-19 hospital admissions per day is lower than the first peak of over 170 in the first week of April 2020 and the second peak of over 120 in October 2020. Hospital admissions decreased throughout November and remained relatively stable throughout December. From 25 December 2020 to 12 January 2021, admissions increased sharply. Average daily COVID-19 hospital admissions have since decreased and the most recent data show an average of 80 COVID-19 hospital admissions per day in week up to 12 February 2021.

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 increased after lockdown until 20 September, and have decreased since then.

The number of A&E attendances decreased to 40% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 29 March 2020. A&E attendances then increased to around 85% of normal levels throughout August and September. Since mid September, A&E attendances have decreased slightly to 67% of normal levels in the week ending 24 January 2021.

A&E attendance numbers give an indication of the wider impacts COVID-19 is having across the NHS.

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 12% above the normal level.

After returning to normal levels over the summer months, excess deaths reached a second peak of 230 (20% above average) in the week ending 22 November. Trends around the turn of the year are difficult to interpret due to the impact of public holidays on death registration. For the most recent week (ending 21 February) deaths are 12% above the normal level.

Excess deaths are the total number of deaths registered in a week minus the average number of deaths registered in the same week over the previous five years. 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 and 2021.

The 2015-2019 average will continue to be used to measure excess deaths in 2021 as using the 2016-2020 average will be inflated by the high number of deaths in 2020. The other blue line on this chart is labelled ‘COVID-19 deaths’ - this shows weekly totals for the number of COVID-19 deaths. Presenting this alongside ‘total deaths’ for the same week shows the extent to which COVID-19 deaths have contributed to the number of excess deaths, 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 2020, there were 662 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 662 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 and 2021 minus the average number of deaths registered in the same week over the period 2015 to 2019.





Emergency and planned admissions

Emergency and planned hospital admissions increased from April to September 2020, and have since decreased.

The number of emergency admissions dropped to 60% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 29 March 2020. Emergency admissions then increased to a peak of 95% of normal levels in the week ending 23 August. Since then, emergency admissions have decreased slightly to 81% of normal levels in the week ending 24 January 2021.

The number of planned hospital admissions dropped to 27% of normal pre-COVID-19 levels in the week ending 19 April 2020. The number of planned admissions increased after that and remained around 70% to 80% of normal levels from the week ending 6 September 2020 to the week ending 20 December 2020. The subsequent drop in planned admissions over the festive period was in line with previous years. Latest data shows that planned hospital admissions are at 62% of normal levels in the week ending 24 January 2021.

Hospital admission numbers give an indication of the wider impacts COVID-19 is having across the NHS. All elective procedures were suspended when lockdown began. 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 31%.

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 24-33% 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 17 February the percentage of children physically attending schools was 8.4%.

Provisional figures for 17 February show that 12.0% of primary school pupils, 3.1% of secondary school pupils and 19.4% of pupils at special schools were physically attending school. Scottish Government Education Analytical Services publishes a dashboard which contains additional information on school attendance and absence.

In response to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Scottish Government asked education and childcare settings to re-open only for vulnerable children and children of key workers following the Christmas break. This is so that key workers can continue with their work, and vulnerable children and young people have access to safe support and learning.

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

Methodology: This information is provisional and currently based on Local Authority schools only (primary, secondary and special schools). We are still working with local authorities to try and improve the quality of this data. Schools which have 30 pupils or more and have fewer than 50% of their openings recorded as home learning have been excluded from the analysis.

Figures from 13 January are calculated using data from SEEMiS. Pupils recorded as being in attendance for any part of the day are counted as being in attendance for that day.





Crisis grants

Scottish Welfare Fund crisis grant applications were 40% higher in December 2020 than in December 2019.

Crisis Grant demand increased rapidly from March 2020, peaking in April. After falling between May and July, demand increased again between August and October. It is likely that increases in demand for Crisis Grants were due to financial hardship resulting from COVID-19. Demand decreased slightly in November and then in December, although there were 40% more applications in December 2020 than there were in December 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.

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 2020 to January 2021 was 6% lower than April 2019 to January 2020. In April 2020 recorded crime was 18% lower than April 2019. For the most recent month - January 2021 - recorded crime was 12% lower than in January 2020.

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 November (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: January 2021

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

More than half of people report feeling lonely.

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 2020. It is now at 54%.

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 69% this wave.

Evidence suggests consistently high levels of trust in the Scottish Government. Since mid-May, around two thirds 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

Just over one fifth 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, 21% 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 between one fifth and a quarter 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 the inital lockdown period in 2020 at 82%. At the most recent measure, collected during the most recent lockdown in January 2021, 77% 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 December, Scotland's business turnover index was 44.0. This is up from 40.3 in November, however it shows that turnover remains lower than the same month in 2019.

The annual business turnover index for December 2020 indicates that business activity remained lower than in 2019, however the index strengthened to its highest level since February 2020. Similar to other business activity indicators, the pace of recovery in the turnover index slowed in the fourth quarter of the year, particularly in the Services sector, and continues 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 fell in November following six consecutive months of growth.

In November, Scotland's GDP fell 1.4% (UK: -2.6%) following six consecutive months of growth. Scotland's GDP remains 7.1% below its level in February (UK: -8.5%).

The pandemic and necessary restrictions are having an unprecedented impact on the economy. Scotland's GDP fell 1.4% in November 2020 (UK: -2.6%) following six consecutive months of growth, and after the record falls in March and April 2020, in which output fell by almost a quarter. At a sector level in November, output increased in the Production (0.8%) and Construction (1.8%) sectors but fell in the Services sector (-2.2%). Scotland's GDP remains 7.1% below its level in February 2020 (UK: -8.5%), prior to the national lockdown measures.

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 4.4% in September to November.

In September to November, Scotland's unemployment rate was 4.4% (UK: 5.0%). This is down 0.1 percentage points on the quarter and up 0.6 percentage points over the year.

The unemployment rate compares well against historical trends, however the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme supported around 8% of the workforce at the end of October. Based on the Labour Force Survey (Sep - Nov 2020), the unemployment rate for women is 3.4% and for men is 5.4%. The unemployment rate for young people (16 to 24 years) is 10.3%. The overall unemployment rate is projected to rise with business surveys signalling further reductions in staffing levels into December.

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 December, Scotland's Claimant Count was 210,800. This fell 0.6% over the month though is 89% 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 210,800 claimants of unemployment related benefit in December. This consists of 130,600 males and 80,100 females.

Source: Scottish Government

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.