Covid Scotland: Tories demand move to Level 0 while blaming government for rising cases
Douglas Ross has urged the Scottish Government to stick to its timetable of moving Scotland to Level 0 later this month, while simultaneously attacking it for “critical failures” which have resulted in rising case numbers.
The Scottish Conservative leader said that despite Scotland being a European Covid hotspot, problems with the Test & Protect system, and “failures” within the vaccination programme, Nicola Sturgeon had to ease lockdown restrictions as originally planned.
The First Minister has said Scotland could move to Level 0 on July 19 and has continued to suggest the planned easing of restrictions will not be delayed amid a surge in cases, although Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has said that might change if there was also a rise in hospital admissions.
New figures from the World Health Organisation have revealed that Scotland is home to six of the highest Covid outbreaks in Europe, with Tayside the region with the highest incidence.
Scotland’s Test & Protect system is also under pressure as a result of increasing cases, and is now only prioritising “high risk” cases for contact by phone, with others being sent text messages.
Meanwhile in a bid to increase the uptake of vaccinations, the government has launched walk-in clinics.
Mr Ross says it would be “completely unforgivable” if restrictions were imposed for longer than outlined in the government’s route map as a result of ministers “taking their eye off the ball”.
“The SNP’s critical failures in guaranteeing they are on top of controlling Covid in Scotland have been ruthlessly exposed,” he said.
“Scotland is now home to six of Europe’s top ten Covid hotspots and the Test and Protect system is completely overwhelmed. That is a shameful record."
He added: “After over a year of making enormous sacrifices, individuals and businesses are understandably weary when it comes to restrictions remaining in place. They are looking ahead to moving to Level 0 in a fortnight’s time with excitement, having already seen this date delayed.
“The SNP’s Health Secretary is now hinting that the easing of restrictions may be delayed if spiralling case numbers equate to putting increased pressure on our NHS. The overwhelming success of the vaccination programme is ensuring that we can continue to look to safely ease restrictions, rather than hinting at pressing the pause button.
“It would be completely unforgivable if the SNP’s failure to get on top of rising cases, their failure to support an effective Test & Protect system and their failures in getting vaccines in people’s arms fast enough meant further devastating delays for individuals and businesses.”
Mr Ross’s comments came ahead of an expected announcement by Boris Johnson that England will see all restrictions lifted later this month.
Scottish Green health spokeswoman, Gillian Mackay, said Scotland cannot follow the Prime Minister’s plans while it has the highest rates in Europe.
“Scotland has the highest rates of infection in Europe according to the World Health Organisation. We simply cannot afford to follow an approach which regards increasing this further as collateral. With only half the population fully vaccinated, letting the virus run free is putting people at risk,” she said.
The Scottish Government has been asked for comment.
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