HEALTH MATTERS: Professor Devi Sridhar speaks ahead of Nicola Sturgeon update

Health expert gives restriction prediction ahead of Covid update tomorrow

Health expert Devi Sridhar (above) gives restriction prediction ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid update tomorrow.

One of Nicola Sturgeon’s key advisers on the Covid pandemic has suggested Scotland could see more ‘protections’ put in place – and says it’s too early to say what impact COP26 had on the country’s infection levels.

Professor Devi Sridhar said rising cases in Europe, particularly in Eastern Europe, is worrying, with Austria today imposing a lockdown on unvaccinated citizens.

She says, by looking at restrictions being imposed in other countries, more measures could be introduced in Scotland – including the widening of the vaccine passport scheme.

But while new measures could be put in place, she believes the era of ‘stay at home lockdowns’ is behind us.

She said: “The virus is still here, it’s putting a lot of pressure on hospitals in Scotland, and so it’s better we take a look at the problem as it really is, and try to get ahead of it to avoid harsher measures further down the line.

“I would think, by looking at other countries, more tightening of indoor settings where it’s riskier. Asking for certification when you enter an indoor setting. This could be again looking at other countries, things like for example vaccination passes, asking for a negative PCR test, even asking for recovery from Covid in the past 90 days if you’ve had Covid.

“The virus is finding people who are unvaccinated, and then it is transmitting at such a high level that it is also finding those who are doubly vaccinated but are much more frail. And what we need to do is limit that circulation.”

The comments come ahead of a Covid update due to be delivered by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tomorrow, where it is possible we could see a widening of restrictions.

Daily cases in Scotland have remained consistently above 2,000 for the last few months, and Professor Sridhar admits that the fallout from COP26 is not yet apparent.

“I’m still cautious, I’d wait for another 1 to 2 weeks to see the full impact [of COP26], but I think it reflects all the mitigations that were put into place,” she said.

Extra protection measures including proof of vaccination and negative lateral flow tests could be responsible for the lack of major jump in cases that health experts had previously worried about, she said, but the full extent will not be clear for the next fortnight.

Asked whether or not she believed vaccine passports will have more prominence in social settings, Professor Sridhar replied: “I don’t know, but I would give the advice to do that.

“I would say at this point we need to step that up, and that actually if you look at public polling, there is encouragement that people want this. They want to continue their lives, going to restaurants, going to hotels, going to gyms – we want everything to stay open.

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