Covid Scotland: COP26 did not increase Covid cases, report finds

The COP26 event in Glasgow did not increase Covid-19 cases in Scotland, a new report has found.

There is also no evidence of any connection between Omicron cases and the conference, the report from Public Health Scotland (PHS) concluded.

According to PHS, in the period between October 31 and November 13 during which the climate summit took place, around two in every 1,000 people affiliated with the conference tested positive for Covid-19.

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This compared to between 11 and 12 in every 1,000 in the general population.

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty ImagesPhoto by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images
Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

There were 353 cases of people infected with the virus attending COP-related events while potentially infectious. This included the conference itself, as well as associated workshops, seminars, marches and protests.

While the rate of Covid cases in Scotland increased during the conference, this was mainly in children aged between five and 11 years old.

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Throughout the event, the rate in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, where the conference took place, was the lowest in the country.

The report states: “Data available to PHS from enhanced and routine Covid-19 surveillance does not indicate a direct COP26 contribution to the increase in Covid-19 infections nationwide during the summit and there is no evidence of any connection between Omicron cases and COP26.

"With infections falling in the two weeks following the end of the summit, it is likely that COP26 has had little impact on Covid-19 epidemiology in Scotland.”

COP26 delegates were asked to take daily lateral flow tests and evidence of a negative test was required for entry to the conference’s “blue zone”.

These tests were monitored by PHS, alongside other surveillance methods including tracking any instances of people falling ill at the conference with Covid-19-related symptoms.

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Dr Nick Phin, PHS director of public health science and medical director, said: “Today’s report reinforces preliminary findings that COP26 concluded successfully without any significant public health risks being identified. Additionally, investigations using available data show no evidence of any connection between Omicron cases and participation in COP26.

“These findings will be important in informing the surveillance response for any future large-scale events where Covid-19 remains a threat to health.

“On behalf of PHS, I extend our thanks and gratitude to all those involved in the tremendous effort that has allowed for the safe and successful delivery of this event during the pandemic.”

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