Scotland’s Covid-19 contact tracing system has been branded “shambolic” after self-isolation notices were issued almost two weeks late.
Parents received letters informing them that their child had been in contact with an infected classmate and should stay home for 14 days.
But the notices were only issued on October 19 – 12 days after pupils could have become contagious on October 7.
It meant they were only asked to stay home for two days – having attended school, been on holiday for a week and then returned to class for a day in the crucial intervening period.
The letters were sent to parents whose children attend Bearsden Primary, near Glasgow, and addressed from Greater Glasgow and Clyde director of public health Linda de Caestecker.
One parent said: “What’s the point of everyone following these rules and everything being shut if the Government can’t get this right seven months into the pandemic?
“It’s an utter disgrace we’re failing so spectacularly after all these months to get people into isolation for almost the full time they could be infectious.
“Obviously, the children could have infected dozens of people over the 12 days – grandparents, brothers, sisters.”
A catalogue of evidence reveals the Scottish Government’s Test and Protect programme is failing.
In the week ending October 18, it took more than 72 hours for contact tracing to be completed in 1200 cases – a 5.1 per cent increase on the week before.
The system also failed to contact 2249 people who had tested positive for Covid since at least June, including 672 people in the week ending October 18.
The Sunday Mail has also learned the Scottish Government has no idea how often pubs, bars and restaurants have been asked to hand over contact details for customers being taken by venues.
This is despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon insisting that hospitality venues are a key driver of second wave Covid cases.
In a bid to step up the operation, ministers last week outsourced contact-tracing contracts to private firms, including Barrhead Travel and Ascensos.
Opposition politicians have reacted with fury to our revelations.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said: “Contact tracing is utterly shambolic.
“Speed is critical to hunting down the virus but tracers are taking too long to notify people.
“For months, the Scottish Government has talked a good game on Test and Protect and it's time they started delivering.
“Life under lockdown is tough on people’s mental health and is bad for jobs and business.
“The Health Secretary needs to get a grip on testing and tracing because these delays are undermining the national effort to tackle coronavirus.”
Scottish Tory public health spokesman Brian Whittle added: “Robust contact tracing is absolutely vital in order to stop the spread of coronavirus.
“Despite their claims to the contrary, the SNP clearly need to urgently tackle the issues surrounding the systems they have in place.
“People are keen to know what the justification is behind the closing of vital hospitality businesses.
"It seems astonishing that they wouldn’t have this data.
“The SNP seem determined to keep information secret rather than owning up to their own shortcomings on contact tracing.”
East Dunbartonshire Council depute chief executive Ann Davie said: “On Monday, October 19, we received notification that a pupil at Bearsden Primary School had tested positive for Covid-19.
“As soon as we were made aware, we contacted the consultant in Public Health Medicine, who advised the attached letter from Public Health should be issued to those who were required to self-isolate.
“The letter was immediately issued to the parents of pupils and school staff who were identified as being close contacts through a contact tracing risk assessment exercise carried out locally.”
An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spokeswoman added: “As part of the Test and Protect programme, schools in NHSGGC are routinely notified of children who test positive for Covid-19.
“Letters are sent by the school outlining the isolation period for children who are identified as being contacts of this child.
“Test and Protect were unsuccessful in contacting the family directly and were unable to identify contacts of the child as part of contact tracing.”
The Sunday Mail revealed in May the Scottish Government had not hired a single Covid-19 contact tracer to help stop the spread of the virus.
At that time, almost 8500 people had applied online for the 2000 positions of call managers, data analysts and health protection nurses.
We told how recruiters were even offered the services of qualified volunteers from the St Andrew’s First Aid charity, but did not respond for eight days.
When they finally did, its managing director Stuart Callison was invited to apply using the same email provided to the public.
The Scottish Government has admitted it has no idea whether contact-tracing details collected by pubs and restaurants have ever been used.
Sturgeon provoked fury when she imposed strict lockdown rules on the hospitality industry earlier this month.
She claimed a fifth of people contact traced for coronavirus had reported being in a hospitality venues and labelled them high-risk environments.
Pubs, bars and restaurants have been under strict orders to collect a name and phone number from every customer for contact-tracing purposes.
They are required by law to store the information and supply details to Test and Protect incident management teams on request.
But the Scottish Government could not say how many times hospitality venues had been asked to supply details.
It said: “The Scottish Government does not hold this information.
"Contacts traced from information collected by premises in support of Test and Protect are available for incident management teams on request.
“This is to assist with outbreak management where required, and to contact those who may have been exposed to the virus in a particular setting, and request them to take appropriate steps to prevent potential spread.”