A record number of patients caught Covid-19 while in hospital in the week ending January 17, Public Health Scotland data revealed. 

A total of 244 patients definitely caught the virus on hospital wards, with another 114 who were probably infected. 

The figures are the highest number of hospital-acquired coronavirus infections during any point in the pandemic.

The Scottish Government has been urged to do more to protect patients from catching Covid-19. 

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It is the third consecutive weekly increase in the number of patients who caught the virus while receiving treatment unrelated to coronavirus.

A total of 2,884 definite cases of hospital infection – where a patient tested positive for coronavirus 15 days or more after being admitted to hospital – have now been recorded.

There have also been a further 1,259 probable cases – where a positive test result is recorded between eight and 14 days after they were admitted – and 969 indeterminate cases where the positive test was recorded between days three and seven of admission.

Scottish Labour interim leader Jackie Baillie said: “Hospital-onset Covid infections have been increasing steadily for months and infections will keep rising if the NHS continues to struggle with staffing and PPE.

“The SNP still has work to do. Hospitals remain a site of primary care and more efforts must be devoted to protecting both frontline staff and vulnerable patients, otherwise we are fighting a losing battle.

“The SNP cannot become complacent at this crucial stage.

“They must get back to basics, get infection rates down and ensure our hospitals are safe for everyone.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Any rise in hospital onset cases of Covid-19 is concerning but we are working hard with health boards to manage and reduce this through the winter preparedness and remobilisation plans.

“Our hospitals are operating at a significantly higher bed occupancy now compared to the first wave and the additional pressure as a result of increased admission of patients who have acquired Covid-19 in the community.

“We are also undertaking significantly more asymptomatic testing compared to the first wave, meaning we are identifying more asymptomatic but positive cases.

“Since the outbreak of the pandemic, we have worked hard to ensure that infection prevention and control (IPC) measures in hospital and other care settings are robust.

“This includes measures such as the appropriate use of PPE, extended use of face masks and coverings, physical distancing, outbreak management, the expansion of asymptomatic patient-facing staff testing and admission testing to ensure patients are placed in the appropriate pathway.”