Scottish Government ‘will not hesitate’ to reintroduce Covid restrictions
The Scottish Government “will not hesitate” to introduce coronavirus restrictions if cases continue to rise, the health secretary has said.
Humza Yousaf told MSPs the government was keeping an eye on the situation, but there were “early signs” case numbers are set to increase again.
He accepted NHS hospitals were “at or close to capacity”, while the social care system was “under enormous pressure”.
The latest figures revealed 932 people are currently in hospital with Covid, up from 917 a week ago, with 63 patients being treated in intensive care.
In addition, 26 people have died in the last 24 hours.
Yousaf said the NHS was under pressure “usually only experienced in winter” and added it was likely to intensify in the coming months.
He also warned COP26 risked increasing the spread of the virus, though the government was working with the UK Government and the UN on safety measures, including to reduce time spent in queues outside the COP venue.
He said: “The Scottish Government continues to explore all options for how it will respond to the evolving pandemic and we will not hesitate to strengthen the protective measures in place if it proves necessary to do so.
“The uncertainty and risk we face as winter progresses means now is certainly not the time to relax our approach. We all need to redouble our efforts to adhere to the protective measures in place and follow the guidance.”
The Scottish Conservatives accused the government of taking a “PR-first approach” to the pandemic.
Health spokesperson Sandesh Gulhane said frontline staff “deserve far better than lumping all the blame on Covid” and suggested the health secretary was “always announcing funding after the problems start”.
He added: “If this health secretary anticipated any issue ahead of time, then Scotland’s NHS wouldn’t be in crisis.”
Labour’s health spokesperson Jackie Baillie said the vaccine programme was not going at the pace required before winter.
Health and social care workers are expected to receive their booster jabs by the end of November, while over 50s and vulnerable groups will get theirs by early next year.
Baillie said: “Restoring capacity in the NHS is key but that cannot happen if Covid is left to circulate at dangerously high levels.”