Covid Scotland: Officials 'concerned, but not panicking' over spike in coronavirus cases

A recent spike in Covid-19 cases has left public health officials “concerned, but not panicking”, MSPs have been told.

Holyrood’s Covid-19 recovery committee took evidence from a panel of experts on Thursday morning after reports suggested about one in 20 people in Scotland had the virus last week.

National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch told the committee the spike was not unexpected.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He said the public should consider making use of previous preventative measures such as wearing face coverings and staying at home from work or education if they feel unwell.

Teenager Eve Thomson receives a Covid vaccination last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesTeenager Eve Thomson receives a Covid vaccination last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Teenager Eve Thomson receives a Covid vaccination last year. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Read More
Scotland's doctors are left ‘bearing the brunt’ of NHS failings, BMA warns

His comments came as confirmed or suspected Covid deaths in Scotland rose to 51 in the week to Sunday, according to latest National Records of Scotland figures.

Public Health Scotland said in the week ending June 26, there were on average 1,148 patients in hospital with Covid-19, which was almost a third (32 per cent) up on the previous week, when there were 870.

Prof Leitch said: “Our advice remains pretty much the same, but you can tell our tone has changed in the last few weeks.

“It’s about staying off if you’re sick, whether that’s college or work or school, certainly reintroducing or thinking about face coverings, handwashing, surfaces – all of those anti-viral things – and, of course, the key intervention remains vaccination.

“If you haven’t come, or you’re due a booster, if you think you’ve missed one, we want to see you.

“Those are the key interventions. We’re concerned, but not panicking.”

Convener Siobhian Brown inquired about misinformation and disinformation arising from the pandemic.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Misinformation, in this instance, was defined as incorrect information being spread inadvertently, while disinformation was described as false information being passed on in a deliberate manner.

Professor Linda Bauld, chief social policy adviser for the Scottish Government, said it was “absolutely essential” that false information was dealt with.

She said addressing misinformation had been carried out “phenomenally well” in Scotland, highlighting specialist groups who tackle inaccurate information on the Covid-19 vaccine, in addition to a network of people who take it upon themselves to respond to queries on the pandemic.

Prof Bauld said: “I wouldn’t jump to say Government should fund a new [misinformation] body. I would ask, what are the gaps and what is the best model for Scotland?”

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser raised questions over the effectiveness of the Scottish Government’s Facts campaign, which sought to issue guidance on steps the public could take to try and avoid catching and spreading Covid-19.

“I know Jason Leitch will know what Facts stands for, but I don’t know many other people who do,” Mr Fraser said.

Public health minister Maree Todd said while people may not be able to recite the specific phrases the acronym stood for, they understood it was a call to action and the overall guidance it was providing.

She said: “We see even now, two-and-a-half years into the pandemic, people really do know and understand the non-pharmaceutical interventions which that particular piece of information was about.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Prof Leitch said the campaign was evaluated, with 83 per cent of people reporting that Facts “changed their behaviour”.

He said there had been consideration towards changing the campaign after the UK Government launched its own “Hands, Face, Space” campaign, but said marketing experts had ruled it as counter-productive.



Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.