Nicola Sturgeon sets out new approach in fighting COVID after dropping ‘elimination’ plan

Nicola Sturgeon urges Scots to get coronavirus jabs

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The Scottish First Minister said today there was emerging mounting evidence COVID-19 vaccines were highly effective in preventing serious illness and death. Ms Sturgeon said this evidence along with the success of the vaccination programme in Scotland meant the Government had started to transition away from focusing largely on dealing with COVID-19 case numbers.

Speaking at her coronavirus briefing today, Ms Sturgeon said public health officials would not have to react “quite so aggressively” to future outbreaks going forward.

The Scottish First Minister has stressed the constant need to “eliminate” coronavirus by forcing low COVID-19 case numbers to their lowest possible rates.

Speaking today, she added: “Up until now, we have sought to respond as quickly as possible to rising case numbers.

“We have known that increasing case numbers lead, almost like night follows day, to significantly increased hospital and ICU admissions, and unfortunately to increased numbers of deaths.

“But increasingly, we are monitoring whether and to what extent vaccination may be breaking that link between rising case numbers, and significantly rising cases of significant illness and death.

 

“If that does prove to be the case, as we hope it will, then we hope that our response to this virus can increasingly evolve as well.”

Instead of relying on tough restrictions recently placed on Scottish regions such as Glasgow which is currently in Level Three of Scotland’s COVID-19 alert system, the Scottish Government will rely more on “enhanced public health interventions.”

Glasgow City Council is the only local authority area to remain in Level 3 of restrictions – prohibiting different households mixing at home and meaning hospitality venues cannot sell alcohol indoors.

Ms Sturgeon said there were signs for “cautious optimism” about the COVID-19 outbreak in Glasgow.

She added “In Glasgow, the seven-day average of new cases has increased since Friday: from 112 new cases per 100,000, to 137.

“However, it’s important to recognise that the extensive public health efforts that are underway in Glasgow will take time to work through, given the scale and complexity of the city so it’s important that we don’t lose heart.”

She said there are also positive signs in East Renfrewshire, which remained in Level Two on Friday despite having a higher seven-day average case rate than Glasgow.

Cases in Scotland as a whole are rising with numbers doubling in the past 16 days, she said, but from a “very low level” with deaths staying low.

The latest data on Tuesday shows two deaths of coronavirus patients and 318 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.

It means the death toll under this daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, is 7,666.

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A decision on any changes to restrictions levels will be made on Friday.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had reached the “fantastic milestone” of having administered more than five million doses of Covid-19 vaccines, with 3,138,366 first doses and 1,881,214 second doses.

Sandesh Gulhane MSP, Scottish Tories health spokesperson, said: “It is welcome that Nicola Sturgeon recognises the incredible success of the UK vaccination rollout has given us a key weapon in fighting against the virus.

“Vaccines are already proving to drive down hospitalisations and intensive care admissions.

“That can hopefully mean we continue to safely ease restrictions, even if the virus is still around us, and be able to welcome more visitors to the country.

 

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“This will be music to the ears of businesses who can ill-afford to have tougher restrictions reimposed on them after suffering hugely over the past year.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the Scottish Government needs to consider calling in the British Army to help in efforts to tackle Covid-19 hotspots in Glasgow.

Mr Sarwar said ministers should “not be afraid” to call in the Armed Forces to help in the city.

He also demanded that mass testing be carried out in the worst affected areas, with pop-up vaccination clinics also being suggested, so that those living or working in hotspots could get jags without having to book an appointment.

Donald MacLeod MBE, the convener of the Glasgow Licensing Forum and owner of the Garage and Cathouse nightclubs, said the Scottish Government has “failed” to provide a route map out of restrictions thus far.

Mr MacLeod said there should be an indicative date laid out by the Scottish Government for the reopening of his sector, but claimed the most important issue was engagement between officials and the industry.

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