Government pressed to release virus science advice

The Scottish Government is under growing pressure to publish the advice of its scientific advisory group which underpins its coronavirus strategy.

John Swinney has said he'll consider releasing the government's science advice on Covid-19.
John Swinney has said he'll consider releasing the government's science advice on Covid-19.

Demands have been growing for the evidence of SAGE and of Nicola Sturgeon’s new advisory group to be made public, after divergence in the strategy between governments led to a recommendation that people should wear face-coverings in Scotland, but not south of the border.

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The government has also shifted its stance on testing, yesterday saying that all over 70s admitted to hospital would be tested for coronavirus even if they have no symptoms, something which had previously been ruled out.

At a virtual committee meeting MSPs quizzed Deputy First Minister John Swinney on the government’s Covid-19 strategy, with Scottish Green Ross Greer asking for the advice to be published.

Mr Swinney said he would consider and discuss the request with other government ministers.

Ross Greer said: “The Scottish Government’s response to the coronavirus crisis has changed as time has gone on. The advice is now to wear face coverings in places where distancing is difficult, despite previously saying this was unnecessary, and the government has begun testing a limited number of asymptomatic people, having previously claimed that those who are not displaying symptoms should not be tested.

“It’s understandable that the government’s approach and advice will change as more is learned about the virus, but there are still significant questions around the strategy pursued by the Scottish Government.

“It’s unclear for instance why the government refuses to adopt Scottish Greens proposals, endorsed by a number of experts, to regularly test hospital workers and carers when it has already conceded that another asymptomatic group, those over 70 admitted to hospital for other reasons, will now be routinely tested.“It’s vital that the government is as transparent as possible at this unprecedented time and I’m pleased that the Deputy First Minister has indicated he will consider publishing more data. He must do so urgently.”

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