In the first days of January some 60 per cent of patients recorded as in hospital “with” Covid were admitted “because of” the virus, according to estimates from Public Health Scotland based on two health boards.
This is a slight drop on the most recent estimate of 68 per cent, recorded in August.
But Public Health Scotland advised caution in interpreting the figures as they are based on data from just two health boards, and the methodology has been changed.
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The report comes after opposition politicians called on the Scottish Government to publish data on Covid-related hospitalisations, after Deputy First Minister John Swinney said it would be released earlier in the week.
There are disproportionately more older people admitted because of Covid, compared to with it, and figures show hospitalisations among older people have increased.
People aged 65 and older account for 42 per cent of all admissions because of the virus, but just 26 per cent of those with it.
Analysis in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on January 1 and 2 shows that of 69 patients admitted to hospital within 14 days of a positive Covid test, 37 (54 per cent) were definite admissions because of the virus, and two (3 per cent) were probable.
Some 30 patients were admitted for other reasons, with an incidental diagnosis of Covid.
In NHS Grampian in the first six days of this year, there were 57 admissions within 14 days of a positive test.
Of these, 23 (40 per cent) were definite admissions because of Covid, and 13 (23 per cent) were probable.
“As of 02 January 2022 in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and 04 January 2022 in NHS Grampian, 60 per cent of acute hospital admissions were determined to be ‘because of’ Covid-19 (assuming either a definite or probable attribution) as opposed to coincidental ‘with’ Covid-19, and reasonably similar between the two Boards,” the Public Health Scotland report states.
"The proportion of 60 per cent in hospital ‘because of’ Covid-19 is lower than the previously reported value of 68 per cent based on SMR01 discharge summaries from NHS boards from between March and August 2021.”
Responding to the report, health secretary Humza Yousaf wrote on Twitter: “This data is of course important but either way if you are in hospital ‘because [of]’ or ‘with’ Covid there will be IPC [infection prevention and control] measures in place, these infection control measures have an impact on our Health Service at a time we are under v significant pressure.”
Mr Yousaf also labelled it “worrying” that there has been a 31 per cent increase in new hospital admissions with Covid in the last week.
Some 653 admissions to hospital were recorded in the week to December 28, where the patient tested positive to Covid in hospital or during the previous two weeks.
The highest number of admissions were in the over 80s (136), and 44 per cent of admissions were in those over 60.