CORONAVIRUS spreading inside Scotland’s hospitals has caused up to 125 outbreaks on non-Covid wards, the health secretary has said.

Jeane Freeman confirmed there had been 125 “incidents” between March 18 and June 3, despite rigorous infection control regimes and personal protective equipment.

She said some were “incidents of suspected transmission in hospitals”, but some were caused by patients importing the virus without showing any symptoms.

However she was unable to say how many were in each category.

Covid has been implicated in 1,815 deaths in Scotland's hospitals up to May 31.

Scottish Labour said the figures raised “serious questions” about the adequacy of PPE and testing of hospital staff. 

Last month whistleblowers claimed Covid spread through Glasgoow’s Gartnavel hospital as if it was a cruise ship after patients were moved from the nearby Queen Elizabeth University Hospital to free up beds for coronavirus patients, and that 25 elderly people died.

More than 20 ward closures occurred across NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s hospitals in March and April.

The new information was released in a Government-inspired written parliamentary question after Ms Freeman and Nicola Sturgeon had faced questions at the daily briefing.

Ms Freeman’s written answer said: “NHS Boards have been reporting incidents that have involved Covid-19 appearing outside the dedicated ward areas. 

“Reports of incidents first arose in mid-March (from 18 March) and increased in line with the trend of the community outbreak. 

“Reports of incidents have been declining since the beginning of May.

“In the period up to 3 June, Health Boards reported to Health Protection Scotland (HPS) a total of 125 incidents involving Covid-19 cases outside the Covid-19 wards. 

“Of these incidents, 120 are now classified as closed. 

“Incidents are classified as closed by Health Boards when there is no evidence of continuing transmission taking into account possible contacts and the incubation period of the virus. “Some incidents are also closed where there are sufficient isolation facilities or where Covid-19 positive patients are transferred to Covid-19 wards.

“These reports constitute incidents of suspected transmission in hospitals. 

“Because of the varying incubation period of Covid-19 it will have been the case that some patients admitted have not presented with symptoms on admission but will have already acquired the virus in the community.

Scottish Labour health and social care spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “Protecting the NHS and saving lives has been a national priority, therefore, it’s worrying that so many outbreaks of Covid-19 have been taking place in our hospitals.

“More information on the 125 incidents that are known about must be published.

“The first known incident happened in the middle of March when we know hundreds of older patients were discharged into are homes, without being tested.

“This revelation raises serious concerns around PPE, the testing of hospital staff and the ability of the virus to spread in institutions such as hospitals and care homes.

“It is clear that the concerns of patients, families and care home residents have not been listened to and as a result lives have been put in danger.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie added: "Healthcare staff have worked hard to keep Covid-19 from spreading through hospitals. 

“I have been speaking up for the many people who are suffering from delays to operations and treatment for non-virus health issues. From people requiring gall bladders removed to hip replacements done to GP care provided there is a lot of pain and anxiety.  

“I want non urgent operations to restart as soon as possible when it is safe to do so. 

"With the number of new cases decreasing, I want Ministers to reconsider the speed of the return of non-urgent procedures so that people waiting can get the care they need."