MORE than 1000 patients definitely contracted coronavirus in Scotland’s hospitals after being admitted for another condition, an official study has confirmed.

An analysis by Public Health Scotland found a further 265 patients had probably caught it after being admitted to a non-Covid ward.

In NHS Fife, where the problem was worst, one in seven Covid cases involved someone who had already been in hospital for a fortnight for something else. 

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the breakdown of the 1,300 nosocomial cases was the most detailed in the UK.

The study of “hospital onset Covid-19 cases in Scotland” found that between March 1 and June 7, there were 17,896 cases of the virus reported to the authorities.

Of these, the vast majority, 12,819 or 71.6 per cent, were “community onset”, meaning the first positive specimen has taken in the community.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon hits out at 'shameful' Boris Johnson amid furious quarantine row

A further 3,485 or 19.5% were “non-hospital onset”, meaning the first positive specimen was taken on day one or two after being admitted as a NHS in-patient.

This is because the virus usually takes up to a week to manifest itself.

Another 291 patients were “indeterminate hospital onset", meaning the first positive specimen was taken 3 to 7 days after admission to an NHS board.

More worryingly, 265 or 1.5% of patients were “probable hospital onset”, meaning the first positive specimen was taken 8 to 14 days after admission, and 1,036 or 5.8% were “definite hospital onset”, as their first positive specimen was taken 15 or more days after admission.

As the disease would ordinarily have manifested itself before 15 days, it must have been acquired by the last group of patients in hospital itself.

The peak for hospital-acquired Covid was the week ending April 5, which was also the peak for community acquired cases of the disease.

Although the national average was 5.8% of all Covid cases being caught in hospital, there was wide variation across the country’s 14 regional health boards.

No cases in the Western Isles, Shetland or Orkney were caught in hospital.

However in NHS Highland it was 6.9% of call cases, in Greater Glasgow and Clyde it was 8.4%, in NHS Borders it was 8.8%, and in NHS Fife it was 13.1%.

In NHS Lothian it was 4.4% of cases.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman revealed last month that there had been 125 incidents of coronavirus identified in Scotland’s hospitals between March 18 and June 6.

It later emerged these involved 908 patients, 218 of whom had died, and 894 NHS staff.

As recently as Tuesday, Ms Freeman said this early data involved “suspected” rather than confirmed cases of hospital acquired Covid. 

However the new study, which covers a slightly longer timeframe, shows the number of definite cases is bigger than Ms Freeman’s previous total.

The study does not say how many patients died after a definite or probable hospital acquired case of Covid.

READ MORE: Total Covid deaths in Scotland fall below long-term average

Scottish Labour health and care spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “Any suspected case of hospital-acquired Covid-19 is a cause for concern.

“Experts were warning of the risks of healthcare transmission at the start of the crisis yet action on PPE and testing was too slow.

“Hundreds of patients, families and staff are awaiting answers on suspected hospital outbreaks and Scottish Labour continues to push for speed and transparency, especially for those who are mourning loved ones.

“It should worry us all if patients and staff are continuing to contract Covid-19 in hospital settings.

 “We all want to see NHS services up and running again however it’s vital that measures have been put in place to improve safety.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Scotland is leading the way by publishing these figures which will help support international effort in the fight against Covid-19. 

"This is the most detailed picture of hospital associated infections anywhere in the UK – no other UK nation has published this breakdown – as it includes every single positive case in hospitals and identifies a likely source.  

“These figures covering a 14 week period show that looking at both definite and probable cases, around 7.3% of cases were Covid-19 nosocomial associated infections.

"This reflects the lower rates of transmission in the community and the incredible efforts of our NHS staff.

“This data shows that the rate of Covid-19 transmission in hospitals follows the same rate of the pandemic spread in Scotland.

“The Infection Prevention and Control measures already in place are vitally important and we have announced enhanced measures to ensure precautions are in place.

"Healthcare working testing, all patient facing staff to wear masks and patient and visitor use of face coverings have all been introduced to reduce the risk of hospital associated infections.”