COP26: Nicola Sturgeon says climate conference poses threat to increase covid infections

The First Minister has announced almost £500 million of further funding to help in the fight against Covid – as she warned that the Cop26 international climate conference “inevitably” poses a risk of increased transmission of the virus.

With delegates from across the world now starting to arrive in Scotland ahead of the UN climate summit, the Scottish First Minister said the coronavirus situation remained “fragile”.

While cases in Scotland had been declining, Ms Sturgeon said this had now levelled off, with the most recent figures showing a “slight increase”.

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She stressed mitigations were being put in place around the Cop26 summit – but that no new restrictions across Scotland were currently necessary.

Nicola Sturgeon says climate conference poses threat to increase covid infections ahead of COP26 in Glasgow.

Ms Sturgeon said hosting the global summit in Glasgow “would always have been a significant challenge” – but said the pandemic made it “even more challenging”.

She stated: “It is inevitably the case that it poses a risk of increased Covid transmission.”

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But the First Minister added: “I want to assure Parliament and the public, that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the United Nations and the UK Government to mitigate these risks as far as possible.”

Her comments came as she pledged an additional £482 million for health boards and other bodies to help them cope with the ongoing impact of the pandemic.

The cash comes as the NHS continues to come under pressure, with Scotland’s accident and emergency departments having just recorded their worst ever waiting times figures.

A total of £136 million more cash has been earmarked for Covid vaccines, with £121 million going to the Test and Protect contact tracing system.

The remainder of the money will cover costs such as additional staffing for hospitals, as well as equipment and maintenance.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The pressures on the NHS are a reminder that Covid continues to be a threat – to our individual health and wellbeing, and to the capacity of our health and care services.”

She called for a renewed effort to tackle the virus, saying that “continued high compliance with existing mitigations and protections is so vitally important”.

Her comments came after she said Scotland had seen a slight increase of about 2% in cases in the past few days.

Scotland has recorded 20 coronavirus-linked deaths and 2,262 new cases in the past 24 hours, she said.

This takes the death toll in Scotland under this daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, to 9,072.

The daily test positivity rate is 11.5%, up from 10.3% the previous day.

Ms Sturgeon said this was not a “surge” of new cases as seen in late August, but added: “We cannot, and should not, ignore the fact that case numbers have started to creep up again.”

There were 917 people in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed Covid-19, a rise of 15 in the past 24 hours, with 59 in intensive care, up from 57.

So far, 4,309,932 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,897,133 have received a second dose.

Ms Sturgeon added that vaccination appointments for all 12- to 15-year-olds have now been scheduled, with over half (53%) of this age group having had a dose.

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