Stelling slams Nicola Sturgeon on ‘disgracefully irresponsible’ Omicron language

TV presenter Jeff Stelling has criticised Scotland’s First Minister for using “disgracefully irresponsible” language about the Omicron variant during a covid briefing.

The Sky Sports host, whose Saturday show has mega viewers,  took to Twitter to air his disapproval of Nicola Sturgeon warning of a potential “tsunami” of new coronavirus cases and stating the new strain may “run riot” in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon told a televised covid briefing on Friday that Scotland faces a “renewed and very severe challenge” with the new variant, adding: “To be blunt, because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant, we may be facing – indeed we may be starting to experience – a potential tsunami of infections.”

During later questioning from journalists, the First Minister said the Omicron variant is and “is and is going to, forgive the non-technical language, run riot.”

Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff responded with a tweet to say: “For a politician to use language like ‘a tsunami of cases’ and the variant ‘running riot’ makes me so angry. Disgracefully irresponsible. For god’s sake stop trying to make headlines.”

Nicola Sturgeon during a briefing at St Andrew's House, Edinburgh. Nicola Sturgeon during a briefing at St Andrew’s House, Edinburgh.

On Friday, Ms Sturgeon announced changes to self-isolation rules in Scotland following the spread of the Omicron variant across the country.

The First Minister was speaking as cases of the new covid strain double every two days.

She said from Saturday, all household contacts of any confirmed covid cases will need to isolate for a period of 10 days regardless of vaccine status.

It comes after Public Health Scotland urged the public to cancel their Christmas parties this year due to the potential for Omicron to spread.

The body made the decision in the wake of concerns about NHS sickness levels after staff festive nights out.

An Omicron evidence paper released by the Scottish Government also predicts that the new strain will become the dominant variant across the country.

Meanwhile, the household contacts of any person who tests positive for Covid should isolate for ten days, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she warned of a potential “tsunami” of infections.

The First Minister said the change, which will be introduced from Saturday, is “essential”, with fears over a rising number of cases across the country.

At a Covid briefing on Friday, Sturgeon said that a total of 110 Omicron cases had been confirmed in Scotland as of Thursday at 5pm, as she indicated the Government’s certainty of a new surge.

The First Minister explained that the Omicron variant is “significantly” more transmissible than the Delta variant.

And she urged people to defer any planned Christmas parties this year, as she warned of the risk posed by the variant.

“Throughout the pandemic, particularly at key stages, I’ve tried to be open and upfront with you about the challenges and uncertainties confronting us,” she said in her opening remarks at the briefing.

“So that you can better understand, if not always agree with, the difficult judgments and decisions we have had to make.  This is another moment when such frankness is really important.

“So the purpose of today’s update is to level with you on what we know about spread in Scotland of the new Omicron variant – and also our estimate of what we are likely to face in the days and weeks to come.

“The fact is we face a renewed and very severe challenge in the face of the new Omicron variant.

“To be blunt, because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant, we may be facing, indeed we may be starting to experience, a potential tsunami of infections.”

Sturgeon acknowledged that it is “not easy”, adding that the changes will be kept under review, but her language is a cause for concern for the public since it indicates that she does not always “level” with the Scottish electorate.

She said: “From tomorrow, our advice would be that all household contacts of any confirmed Covid case should isolate for ten days, regardless of their vaccination status and even if they initially get a negative PCR test.

“I know that this is not easy and we will obviously keep it under review. We will also ensure careful exemptions for critical services. But we believe this to be essential at this moment to help slow transmission.

“Non-household contact should continue to isolate pending a PCR result. If that is negative, they can leave isolation at that point as long as they are double vaccinated.”

The First Minister said that additional Covid protective measures cannot be ruled out, as she outlined the importance of taking early action.

She said: “The public health advice, which I’ve no alternative but to agree with given the evidence of risk that I know about and have now shared with you, is that we should all think a bit more carefully about unnecessary contact, especially in crowded places just now and that it would be sensible to defer work Christmas parties.

“Now, I know this has a big impact on businesses, which is why we are considering and pressing the UK Government on financial support.

“But once again, we face a situation that frankly has no easy options. We know that any additional protective measures will cause social and economic harms, especially after almost two years of this pandemic.

“But we also know from past experience that early action is often needed when dealing with this virus.

“In fact, acting early is often the best way of acting proportionately. So we can’t rule out further measures, and I’m afraid we can’t avoid the advice that I have shared with you today.

“I’ll continue to do all I can to be up front and open with you in the days ahead, and I continue to be so grateful for the responsibility the vast majority of people across the population are showing.”


One comment

  1. I’ll be upfront and open with you declares the First Minister.

    Don’t know if there’s many that would agree with that. The stage managed shows by the First Minister are now wearing thin. Folks know spin when they hear it. This is an SNP Government well past its sell by date.

    Bloated and inefficient, what has Sturgeon and the gang achieved – the Hate Crime Bill, Trans Rights asnd an NHS that can’t deliver doctors’ appointments, accident and emergency services, ambulance services. And what about school results as they fall through the floor?

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