Nicola Sturgeon has been urged to consider quarantining visitors from England to Scotland by one of her most trusted advisors.
Edinburgh University’s Prof Devi Sridhar – described in the Telegraph as “one of the most influential members of the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group” – said the first minister should think about introducing quarantine for visitors from England where the coronavirus strategy is to “reopen as soon as possible”.
Scotland, however, is on course to eliminate the coronavirus by the end of the summer and registered no Covid-19 deaths for the third day in a row today – while England is still seeing 5,000 to 6,000 new cases each day, said Prof Sridhar.
Scotland’s not an island – has to find next best solution
“If Scotland was an island – like New Zealand – I would say going for zero cases would be completely feasible,” said the professor, but instead, “we have to find the next best solution.”
This means “catching those [incoming] cases through screening, through quarantine, through testing,” she said, pointing at measures introduced in the US by states such as New York and Connecticut who will require visitors from nine other US states with “significant community spread”, including Texas and Florida, to quarantine for 14 days.
Scotland has far stricter lockdown measures still in place but shares an open border with England where future spikes are anticipated following numerous lockdown and social distancing breaches at beaches, protests, illegal raves and other events.
Restrictions have eased in England and concerns are growing ahead of the July 4 big reopening that the virus will spread and possibly lead to a second wave. Measures are being debated by the government and its advisors to respond to outbreaks and the home secretary today conformed she is considering enforcing a “localised lockdown” in Leicester after a sharp rise in cases in the city.
Sturgeon – ‘total elimination of the virus has to be our overriding priority’
Sturgeon declared on Friday (June 26) that “suppressing the virus, driving it as far as we can towards total elimination has to be our overriding priority”.
She warned about complacency, reminded the virus “has not yet gone away” and that in other countries coming out of lockdown, it is “on the rise again”
Figures from Germany and the US are warning signs that “we ignore at our peril,” said Sturgeon, adding her big concern is that “as we ease more restrictions, people drop their guard – it is perhaps human nature.”
Announcing Scotland’s first day without a confirmed death caused by Covid-19, Sturgeon said: “We have made exceptional progress over the past three months, and the figures today highlight that.
“But it has only been possible because the vast majority of us have stuck to the rules.”
More than 4,100 people in Scotland have died from coronavirus though the number of patients in the country’s intensive care units has fallen to 17 and the percentage of people testing positive was 0.3% on Thursday (June 25).
On Twitter, Prof Sridhar asked: “If Scotland & N.Ireland could do this within months, why not England? It’s a political choice & about a clear strategy looking ahead 6-8 months. Why accept thousands of daily infections & deaths & repeated lockdowns?”
Scotland – the dates for lifting lockdown
Monday June 29 – Scotland’s reopening begins tomorrow (Monday) with non-essential shops, visitor attractions, outdoor playgrounds and sport courts as well as many indoor workplaces
Friday July 3 – the five mile travel distance will be relaxed on the same day that most second homes and self-catering accommodation can be visited.
Sunday July 6 – beer gardens and other outdoor hospitality venues can reopen.
Friday July 10 – two households can meet indoors and extended groups of people can meet up outside.
Sunday July 13 – Dentists will be able to offer some services while shopping centres can open and children’s organised outdoor contact sports can resume.
Tuesday July 15 – Scotland’s pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, barbers, childcare, museums, cinemas, libraries and all holiday accommodation will restart – some 11 days after similar measures will resume in England.