Scottish Government backtracks over claim Euros testing could cause Covid spread

The Scottish Government has rowed back on claims that Covid testing of football fans at the European Championships in Glasgow could create a risk of virus spread.

Faced with mounting calls for testing ahead of the events, the Scottish Government said on Sunday that this measure is “not feasible”, and that queues for testing “could, counter-productively, present a possible Covid risk”.

But an expert said on Monday the risk of transmission associated with testing centres would be “extremely low”.

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In response, the Scottish Government has repeated its original statement, but removed the comment about testing creating a possible Covid risk.

The Scottish Government has said there are no plans for mass testing of fans at the Euros. Picture: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

Dr Shaun Fitzgerald of Cambridge University said it’s true that testing would pose a risk, but that is true for “almost anything”, and the benefits would probably outweigh the risks.

"Walking out of the house and being with other people presents a Covid risk,” said Dr Fitzgerald, who is a member of the SAGE Environmental Modelling Group but was speaking in his capacity as Director of the Centre for Climate Repair.

He had not heard of the risk of Covid spread being used as an argument against setting up testing before, he said.

He said: “The big question is: by how much are we increasing our risks relative to the benefits of said activity.

“In this particular case, if it's a case of going and forming orderly queues, certainly outside when you're well spaced, then the risks are being increased very, very marginally.

“Then one can ask what are the benefits, and… there seem to be fairly significant benefits.”

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Dr Fitzgerald said the question should be analysed with the relevant data, but that he would expect this to recommend testing.

“Certainly with large events there are big benefits, if you’re putting lots of people together, to trying to do testing before an event to reduce the likelihood of there being lots of people who are potentially infectious attending, and that then becoming a hotbed for transmission,” he said.

“I would expect that doing testing before the event is a sensible thing to do… just queuing outside if you’re two metres apart, in an outside environment, the risks are extremely low. “

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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