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by Louise Wilson
07 July 2021
Health secretary ‘won’t apologise’ for London trip amid rising case numbers

Holyrood

Health secretary ‘won’t apologise’ for London trip amid rising case numbers

The health secretary has defended a taking a trip down to London after opponents accused him of “disappearing” as coronavirus case numbers rise.

Humza Yousaf said he “won’t apologise” for the visit to Harry Potter Studios, which he said he had promised his stepdaughter “months ago”.

The Scottish Conservatives insisted there was “a complete absence of leadership” from the Scottish Government after the Scottish Sun reported both Yousaf and COVID recovery secretary John Swinney were on holiday.

The number of people testing positive for COVID in Scotland has remained stubbornly high in recent days, though it has fallen from a peak of 4,234 cases on 1 July to 2,363 cases reported yesterday.

However, that is still the highest it has been since the second wave of the virus at the turn of the year.

The World Health Organization named six Scottish health boards among the top ten worst-hit regions in Europe earlier this week.

And despite the assertion the link between case numbers and hospitalisations had been disrupted, NHS Highland has put Raigmore Hospital in Inverness on “code black status” after reaching capacity.

Reports also suggest NHS Lanarkshire is being “pushed to breaking point”, with some elective care being postponed.

Defending his trip down south, Yousaf tweeted: “Pandemic has been tough for everyone & I am luckier than most, but it has been tough for my 12yr old stepdaughter who missed her friends during her P7 year. As a treat, I promised this Harry Potter fan a trip to HP Studios months ago (if restrictions allowed) when school finished.

“Every day I have taken ‘off’ I have worked. Speaking to clinicians, vaccines & testing teams, clearing submissions etc.

“My family don't see me much at all, and while they understand why, it is difficult for us all, so I won’t apologise for giving them the v limited time I do.”

But the Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr accused the government of having “abandoned the day job at the worst possible moment”.

He said: “It’s a dereliction of duty to all go on leave when things get tough. Scotland is the COVID capital of Europe yet the First Minister, COVID recovery secretary and health secretary are all missing in action.

“It looks like the SNP are hiding from scrutiny because they have lost control of the virus in Scotland.”

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