Coronavirus: Scotland facing ‘stream of infections’ from England and Wales, says Scottish government adviser

Professor Devi Sridhar says Scottish neighbours are ‘behaving more like the rest of Europe’

Samuel Lovett
Sunday 16 August 2020 18:03 BST
Cases linked to Aberdeen outbreak in Scotland rise by 25 says Nicola Sturgeon

A senior coronavirus adviser to the Scottish government has warned that the country is facing a “stream of infections” from both England and Wales.

Professor Devi Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish government’s Covid-19 Advisory Group, said the two countries are “behaving more like the rest of Europe”, which has seen a recent relaxation of restrictions and subsequent rise in cases.

Her latest comments have drawn criticism from the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who said recent outbreaks in Aberdeen and Orkney could be not attributed to imported cases from across the border.

Writing in an opinion piece for The New York Times, Prof Sridhar said: “Scotland and Northern Ireland have looked ahead at the coming winter, and made a concerted plan to minimise community transmission to avoid a serious resurgence of the virus by using the summer to drive cases as close to zero as possible and to reopen cautiously.

“But neither nation has control over its borders because they are parts of the United Kingdom.

“So both now face a stream of incoming infections from England and Wales, which are behaving more like the rest of Europe, as well as from people returning from holiday abroad and not abiding by advice to isolate for 14 days.”

Willie Rennie, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, dismissed the claims, arguing that it was “unhelpful” for Prof Sridhar to be “feeding a divisive nationalist narrative without scientific evidence to back it up”.

“It’s news to me that people from England and Wales were responsible for the outbreaks we’ve seen in Aberdeen, Orkney, Lanarkshire and Glasgow,” he said.

An outspoken figure during the pandemic, Prof Sridhar said last month that English authorities were “content” with the country’s current mortality and infection rates.

When asked about the zero-Covid strategy she has been advocating in recent months, she replied: “I think here [in Scotland] it’s been clearly communicated we want to get out of community transmission.

“With England, I’m not really sure.

“It seems they are trying to suppress but they’re also content with a certain number of infections every day and a certain level of death.

“So I just wish they would clearly articulate it and we could work together across the four nations to really drive this virus out.”

Prof Sridhar is chair of global public health at the University of Edinburgh.

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