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Cop26 poses an ‘inevitable’ risk of rising Covid-19 rates, says Sturgeon

·3 min read

The Cop26 international climate conference “inevitably” poses a risk of increased coronavirus transmission, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

She said mitigations were in place to guard against this as she said that the situation in Scotland remained “fragile”.

In a statement at the Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said a decline in cases had levelled off and recent days showed a “slight increase”, but no new restrictions were planned.

She called for a renewed effort to combat the virus as she said that health and social care services face their highest level of pressure to date in the pandemic.

More than 30,000 people are expected to head to Glasgow for the two-week UN conference, which starts on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The hosting of Cop26 would always have been a significant challenge for the UK and Scottish governments and Glasgow City Council.

“However, the fact it is happening amidst the global pandemic makes it even more so.

“It is inevitably the case that an event of this scale poses a risk of increased Covid transmission.

“I want to assure Parliament and the public, however, that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the United Nations and the UK Government to mitigate these risks as far as possible.

“Most delegates will be double vaccinated, those from outside the common travel area will have to show proof of a negative test and those on the red list will have to stay in managed quarantine.

“Those in the blue zone will have to carry out daily lateral flow testing and follow hygiene mitigations.”

The First Minister said there was a slight increase of about 2% in cases in the past few days.

Scotland has recorded 20 coronavirus-linked deaths and 2,262 new cases in the past 24 hours, she said.

This takes the death toll in Scotland under this daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, to 9,072.

The daily test positivity rate is 11.5%, up from 10.3% the previous day.

She said this was not a “surge” of new cases as seen in late August, but added: “We cannot and should not ignore the fact that case numbers have started to creep up again.”

There were 917 people in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 15 in 24 hours, with 59 in intensive care, up from 57.

So far, 4,309,932 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,897,133 have received a second dose.

Ms Sturgeon said vaccination appointments for all 12- to 15-year-olds had been scheduled and 53% of that age group had had a single dose.

She also announced that international travellers coming to Scotland will now be able to take a lateral flow test instead of a more expensive PCR test on the second day following arrival.

The move, which takes effect from 5pm on Friday, aligns with earlier changes in England and applies to double-vaccinated travellers arriving from countries not on the red list.

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