Nicola Sturgeon says hosting COP26 'poses a risk of increased Covid transmission'
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said “it is inevitably the case” that Scotland hosting COP26 “poses a risk of increased Covid transmission”.
Sturgeon’s statement, given to the Scottish Parliament chamber as part of the weekly Covid update, follows on from Health Secretary Humza Yousaf warning there is “absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising” due to Glasgow hosting COP26.
The event is expected to bring between 21,000 and 25,000 delegates to Glasgow, from around the world, but concerns have been raised about the potential for the event to spread the coronavirus.
Speaking in Holyrood, Sturgeon said: “The final update I want to give today relates to the upcoming COP26 summit in Glasgow which gets underway this weekend.
“Indeed, some delegates are already here for pre-sessional events.
“The summit is one of the most important gatherings of the century so far. It is perhaps the world’s last chance to avert future climate catastrophe.
“The Scottish Government will do everything we can to help make it a success.
"The hosting of COP would always have been a significant challenge for the UK and Scottish Governments, and for Glasgow City Council.
“However, the fact it is happening amidst the global pandemic makes it even more challenging.
“And it is inevitably the case that an event of this scale poses the risk of increased Covid transmission.
“However, I want to assure parliament and the public that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the United Nations and the UK government to mitigate these risks as far as possible."
Sturgeon said “steps have been taken” to ensure delegates are fully vaccinated before arrival “as far as possible”.
The First Minister also told the chamber that everyone attending the core venues at COP26 will be required to take a lateral flow test every day, and to wear face coverings.
Previously, the Health Secretary said that “of course” there will be an increase in coronavirus cases as a result of delegates attending the climate change summit in Glasgow next month.
Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, Yousaf said: “Of course we’d expect there to be positive cases that are linked to COP, but we are also very, very assured by the protocols we’ve got in place to isolate those cases as best we possibly can.”
When asked about the possibility of increased restrictions due to a COP-related coronavirus spike, Yousaf said: “We’ll do everything we can to make sure we keep [cases] to a minimum.
“But there’s no public health expert in the world who would say there’s no risk, in the midst of a global pandemic, to have tens of thousands of people descending onto largely one city.
“So there is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.”