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COP26 summit could ‘absolutely spark Covid surge’ with 25,000 delegates arriving in Glasgow

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THE COP26 summit could “absolutely” spark a Covid surge as 25,000 delegates descend upon Glasgow, admits Scotland’s health boss.

Experts fear the sudden influx of tens of thousands of visitors for the high-profile climate event will see coronavirus infections spiral out-of-control.

PA

Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s health secretary, has admitted that Covid cases will spiral[/caption]

Scotland’s health secretary, Humza Yousaf, admitted there was “absolutely a risk” that coronavirus cases would escalate, but said there were no immediate plans for a return to tough restrictions.

He told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show: “There’s not a public health expert in the world that would say there’s no risk in the middle of a global pandemic to have tens of thousands of people descending onto largely one city.”

The Guardian reported that more than 30,000 people from 196 countries are predicted to visit the area for the crucial two-week Cop26 climate conference from October 31 until November 12.

They include politicians, security, advocates and protesters.

Yousaf added: “There is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising thereafter, but we’ll do everything we can to mitigate that.

“We are also very, very assured by the protocols we’ve got in place (at the conference) to be able to isolate those cases as best as we possibly can.”


He said: “We have been working with the UK government and the United Nations (UN) to make COP as safe as we possibly can.

“Mitigations like daily testing in the blue zone, very strict isolation protocols in place, face coverings being worn in the blue zone and so on.

“We will do everything we possibly can to make the event because we recognise the climate emergency itself is the biggest public health emergency and crisis that we face globally.”

But Scottish Labour deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, accused him of having “no answers to the potential impact of Cop26 on our NHS.

“We are looking down the barrel at a winter of extreme pressure on our NHS and potentially surging levels of Covid.

“We need action from the Health Secretary to avoid this, not warm words.”

There is absolutely a risk of Covid cases rising.


Scotland's health secretary, Humza Yousaf

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader and health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP warned: “The NHS is already overwhelmed, it will struggle to cope with the extra added pressure an event like Cop26 will bring.”

Scotland has recorded 2,528 Covid cases in the past 24 hours, the latest Scottish Government figures show.

A further 21 deaths have been recorded, but the figures released on Sunday were for the previous 48 hours, after a “data issue” meant death numbers could not be reported on Saturday.

Devi Sridhar, an Edinburgh-based professor of global public health, warned on Twitter: “A mass event, with major movement of people in and out, with an infectious virus will cause an increase in cases.

“Which in the case of Covid will put stress on limited health services.”

Worries over escalating coronavirus cases come as Glasgow grapples with transport woes, and a shortage of accommodation for visitors.

The Guardian writes, too, that Glasgow City Council is meanwhile struggling to solve “reduced rubbish collections, a rat infestation and a surge in fly-tipping” with refuse workers confirming plans to strike during the huge summit.

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