NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of multiple failures in tackling coronavirus, including keeping an early outbreak "secret" from the public. 

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said the First Minister had ducked responsibility over the decision not to publicise the outbreak at a Nike conference in late February. 

And he challenged her over whether details of future clusters of Covid-19 will be made public.

Ms Sturgeon said suggestions of a cover-up impugned not just her integrity but the integrity of public health experts. 

Speaking at First Minister's Questions, Mr Carlaw asked Ms Sturgeon whether she accepted keeping the Nike conference outbreak "a public secret was not the right course to take". 

A total of 25 people contracted Covid-19 following the event at Edinburgh's Hilton Carlton Hotel on February 26 and 27, including eight who were resident in Scotland.

However the incident was not made public until it was revealed in a BBC documentary, and it has since emerged dozens of people who came into contact with delegates were never traced.

Ms Sturgeon was pressed on her administration's handling of events as the latest figures showed a total 3,546 suspected and confirmed coronavirus-related deaths had been recorded in Scotland by May 17.

There were 332 deaths relating to Covid-19 registered between May 11 and 17, a decrease of 83 from the previous seven days and the third consecutive weekly drop, figures from the National Records of Scotland showed.

Ms Sturgeon accused Mr Carlaw of seeking to make the handling of the crisis political by using terminology such as "secret".

She said the cases from the Nike conference were all reported through the Scottish Government's daily figures. 

The outbreak itself was not publicised due to patient confidentiality, she said.

Ms Sturgeon said the incident management team took all appropriate steps to contact trace and protect public health. 

She said more than 60 contacts were traced in Scotland, and more than 50 were traced by Public Health England south of the border.

She said experienced experts decide who gets contacted.

She told Mr Carlaw: "It is not me, it is not the Health Secretary, is it not rightly any politician who decides when an outbreak is being managed who gets contacted and who gets traced, that is for experienced people used to dealing with these situations to do.

"And I have confidence in how they did that."

The First Minister said scientists are doing further work to look at the particular strain of coronavirus at the Nike conference. 

This will be able to tell whether the incident contributed to any wider outbreak.

Ms Sturgeon said issues of patient confidentiality will change as more cases are involved. 

Mr Carlaw said: "Part of the reason why we need to hold this Government to account is to try and avoid further mistakes. 

"And on that it's clear the Government does not yet have the plans Scotland needs to handle the crisis effectively. 

"A testing system that's only delivering one-third of its capacity. That's a failure. 

"A crisis in Scotland's care homes and still not enough tests for staff and residents. That is a failure. 

"And no clarity on how or even if the public will be told about future outbreaks. Again, that is a failure.

"Does the First Minister not see these are the things she must deliver on if we are to beat the virus, and she must deliver on them without any further delay or obfuscation?"

Ms Sturgeon said the Government is delivering on all of these things, and is adapting its response as it learns more about the virus. 

She said she is accountable for the Government's handling of the crisis and takes this seriously.

She added: "I probably answer more questions on a more regular basis than any other leader in any other part of the UK does and rightly so, in my view."

The First Minister said the Scottish Government is about to launch an extensive test, trace and isolate programme.

Speaking after FMQs, Mr Carlaw said: “For someone who wants to be seen to be taking responsibility, Nicola Sturgeon's behaviour on this issue is completely unacceptable.

“It seems she's desperate to hide behind public health officials when it transpires mistakes have been made.

“The First Minister should admit she got this wrong, and that decision could have allowed the virus to spread."