SNP Covid-19 adviser: Better testing could have saved thousands of lives
One of the SNP’ government’s advisers on coronavirus has admitted a better approach to testing could have saved thousands of lives.
Writing in the New Statesman, Mark Woolhouse also said history may judge the decision to enter lockdown as a “monumental mistake”.
The member of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group questioned the restrictions on schools, given how unlikely children were to be hit by the virus.
He wrote: “Testing has a significant role to play but we need to be more ambitious about scale and speed, concentrating first on those in close contact with those most at risk. If we had focused on this from the outset we might have saved thousands of lives and avoided locking down our children and damaging their futures in so many ways.”
The piece comes as the SNP government is placed under increasing pressure over testing.
More than half a million coronavirus tests have been unused in Scotland, despite the World Health Organisation saying it should be a priority.
A pledge to test every care home worker and resident routinely hasn’t even come close to being honoured.
And efforts to ease lockdown restrictions will only succeed if the SNP has a robust system in place for test, trace and isolate.
Scottish Conservative shadow health secretary Miles Briggs said:
“This is a stark admission from a key adviser to the SNP government on coronavirus.
“He clearly believes that had the testing system been better, more lives would have been saved.
“Yet Scotland has one of the poorest test set-ups not just in the UK, but in the whole of the developed world.
“The capacity exists, but week after week the SNP government completely fails to get the tests to the people who need them.
“The failures in testing by this Scottish Government appear to have cost lives, and will jeopardise Scotland’s journey out of lockdown.”
Notes to editors:
The article by Mr Woolhouse was published on the New Statesman website today:
Scotland must not be left out of international travel
The Scottish Conservatives have demanded that the First Minister clears up confusion on airbridges and quarantine urgently as parents and families try to organise their summer holidays.
As children go back to school on the 11th August, it is vital that the First Minister makes this call as soon as possible to given them time to book their hard-earned getaways.
While the UK government is due to publish the full list of airbridges from England to other, ‘low risk’ countries later today, holidaymakers are already resolving to travel to Manchester or Newcastle to take advantage of the move.
This would have a profoundly negative impact on Scotland’s airports. Derek Provan, chief executive of AGS Airports, which owns Aberdeen and Glasgow airports, has said that regional variations will cost jobs.
He said; "This isn't just about people being able to go on a summer holiday, it's about safely re-establishing the routes that drive trade and investment."
Tourism operators have made clear that the prospect of quarantine within the UK would have a significant financial impact on their businesses also.
Jackson Carlaw, Leader of the Scottish Conservatives said;
“The First Minister has got to make a decision.
“The UK Government’s list of low risk countries would allow safe travel, get the economy moving and help families get their summer holidays.
“Parents and families desperate to go on holiday only have a short amount of time to get their bookings sorted.
“There is confusion everywhere - tourism operators are fielding cancellations, holidaymakers don’t know where they can go.
“And SNP Ministers have no idea how to solve practical problems like Scottish holidaymakers flying from Manchester or Newcastle.
“The First Minister must act now and agree a UK-wide approach which works for families, business and the Scottish tourism industry.”
Mr Provan’s comments can be found here - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-53277092