'Uncertainty' about origin of outbreak and 'rapidly accelerating' transmission forced Aberdeen lockdown decision

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed Aberdeen would be subject to reimposed restrictions from today due to an outbreak of Covid-19.

Uncertainty about the origin of the virus outbreak goes back to the original cluster at the Hawthorn Bar
Uncertainty about the origin of the virus outbreak goes back to the original cluster at the Hawthorn Bar

Nicola Sturgeon has said the uncertainty over the origin of the outbreak of Covid-19 in Aberdeen and the ongoing “rapid transmission” of the virus created a tipping point for the Scottish Government to reimpose lockdown restrictions in the city.

The First Minister, speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing with chief medical officer Gregor Smith, announced those living in Aberdeen will face tougher restrictions from today due to the outbreak which was first reported last week.

All pubs, restaurants and bars will be forced to close from 5pm today and a five mile travel restriction has been put in place for those living in the city.

Nicola Sturgeon described the factors which led her to making the lockdown decision.

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She said the decision to reimpose restrictions came after she saw sustained “rapidly accelerating” transmission of the virus.

Ms Sturgeon said: "These will always be careful judgements and I’ve always been reluctant because they don’t really exist to give absolute trigger points for doing things though there are a range of different things that have to be taken into account and that will be true when we deal with outbreaks in any part of the country.

"I chaired a meeting last night when I think we had just over 30 confirmed cases and there appeared to be another 20 that were possibly going to be associated. This morning there was concern about another, possibly more than 20, cases which could be associated.

"It feels to me that cases are, in Aberdeen, are rapidly accelerating with the number of cases doubling every couple of days. In a situation like that there is a real need to act quickly.”

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The First Minister added that uncertainty about the chain of transmission for the cluster had also helped with deciding to reimpose restrictions and shut venues.

She said: “The other factor, and if I can contrast this with the outbreak in Inverclyde last week, in Aberdeen they are not yet able to be certain that they know exactly what all of the routes of transmission are.

"The Hawthorn Bar has appeared to be at the centre of this but the further analysis has shown that they are not certain that all of these positive cases either started there or can be tracked back to that bar and there are a number of other bars in scope.

"There’s a lot of uncertainty remaining around the chains of transmission and when you’ve got an uncertainty around what the chains of transmission are, by definition you have got an uncertainty about whether they are being broken effectively.

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"It is that uncertainty as well as what appears to be quite a rapidly accelerating position that sadly led me and SGoRR this morning to the view that we had to act quickly to put in place additional measures to stem the spread while Test and Protect gets on and does its work.”

Chief medical officer Gregor Smith said there was a need to take “very firm and decisive action” to prevent further spread in the city and Scotland more widely.

He said: “When you look around the world just now, whether that be Europe, Asia or the United States, one of the common features we are starting see coming out of these places is when infections re-emerge, by the time that people think it is time to take action it is already too late.

"If we had continued to wait for further data and further data and seen the rise in cases that we have seen, particularly in the last couple of days, I think had we done that it would already be too late to stop this escaping into the community.”

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