Jackie Baillie MSP and Vale of Leven Health Centre.

Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helenbsburgh MSP Jackie Baillie warned the Scottish Parliament today that unless the Government moves quickly with measures to contain the coronavirus people will lay the blame for its escalation and deaths associated with it at the door of the First Minister and her Cabinet.

Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Labour’s Jackie Baillie told parliament:Constituents with cystic fibrosis have significantly reduced lung function and so will experience severe consequences as a result of coronavirus. Some are self-isolating already, but others remain at work.

“I have become more concerned since a local general practitioner contacted me this morning, urging the Scottish Government to act now to institute isolation measures across the population. He strongly believes that the true extent of the virus’s spread is much wider than the amount among those who have been tested.”

The GP told Ms Baillie: “Every extra 24 hours that we leave it now will mean more deaths in two weeks’ time.”

And she told Nicola Sturgeon :”I therefore urge the First Minister not to wait until next week, and ask her to accelerate action in order to protect the population.”

However, the First Minister replied: “I am acutely aware of the importance and urgency of the issue. She will understand that because I am not a clinician it is important that I, and all those who are in positions such as mine, listen to, and are guided and informed by, the advice and expertise of the people who are best placed to give it.

“On many occasions—most recently, this morning—I have discussed with the chief medical officer the issue of people who have underlying health conditions. The four chief medical officers of the United Kingdom are considering how to give specific advice quickly to people who have particular conditions, of which there is potentially a large number.

“As I said earlier, there is existing guidance for people who have severely compromised immune systems, and that guidance should be followed.”

She added: “I make it clear to Jackie Baillie and other members that the issues are being treated urgently. That is true not just of the Government but of our medical advisers. It is important that we give people the right advice. The behaviour changes that we will ask people to make will be in place for, potentially, a significant period and not just for a couple of weeks. It is important that that advice is right, that people can rely on it and that it is informed by people who know what is the right thing to do. I will continue to have discussions regularly, as will the Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport [Jeane Freeman].”

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