Devi Sridhar: COP26 likely to lead to increase in Covid cases and put further strain on NHS
A member of the Scottish Government's Covid advisory group has warned that COP26 is likely to lead to a spike in cases and put extra strain on the NHS.
Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at Edinburgh University, said the climate conference was likely to increase the number of cases.
Asked on Twitter whether the climate conference, which begins on October 31, is likely to make Covid “worse”, she replied: “I could be wrong (and hope I am) but yes. A mass event (with major movement of people in & out) with an infectious virus will cause an increase in cases. While in the case of COVID will put stress on limited health services. Which triggers need for further restrictions.”
COP26 runs until November 12 and is expected to cause major disruption in Glasgow as thousands of delegates head to the city for the summit, which has been described as the world's “last best chance” to tackle climate change.
Responding to Sridhar's comments, Scottish Labour health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said: “Whilst not entirely surprising, it is nevertheless troubling to hear Professor Sridhar warn of a potential spike in cases as a result of COP26 taking place in Glasgow.
“Covid cases are already far too high and lives are being lost. If we are to prevent cases spiking, and the inevitable additional pressure that would put on our NHS, we need the SNP government to speed up the sluggish roll-out of the booster jab and ensure the NHS has surge capacity.
“It is not good enough to wait for cases to spike before taking action. The health secretary must act, and act now.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “We saw from the G7 in Cornwall that these major gatherings can bring with them a spike in Covid cases.
“The Scottish Government should set out what proactive measures it is putting in place to enable NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and others to deal with any rise in cases associated with COP26.
“With experts like Professor Sridhar already warning of the risk, there is no excuse for the health secretary to be taken by surprise. He should move to support our NHS now.”