Scottish Labour demand new measures to keep Covid infections under control

Scottish Labour have demanded that Holyrood introduces new measures to keep people safe from Covid as infections continue to rise.

Jackie Baillie, the party’s health spokeswoman, set out their Covid Resilience Strategy on Monday as the virus’s death toll north of the border reached over 15,000.

The Scottish Labour MSP warned: “Not only has Covid not gone away – it is on the rise.

“But if decisive action is taken now, we can keep people safe without the need for future restrictions.”

The party’s six-point plan includes calls for free PCR and lateral flow tests to remain for the most vulnerable in society, and free PPE to be extended to unpaid carers while infection rates remain high.

Rates of the virus in Scotland are the highest in the UK, and on Friday the Office for National Statistics said around one in 17 people in Scotland had Covid-19 in the week up to June 29.

That is an increase from one in 50 people in the week up to May 29.

But Ms Baillie said: “For too long the SNP government has sat on its hands as cases have risen.

“It’s time to learn from the mistakes of the past and prepare for the weeks and months ahead.”

Their resilience plan also calls for the Scottish Government to request that the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) reviews its guidance in regards to ongoing and future booster vaccination schemes to determine whether eligibility should be extended and the rollout accelerated.

Labour have also asked that every person who is at highest risk of becoming seriously ill to be able to access antiviral medication within a five-day window in their local area if they test positive for Covid.

As part of their plan, they want to see spaces and buildings with the poorest air quality and the highest density prioritised with interventions to improve ventilation.

And the party is calling on ministers to boost support for Scots with Long Covid.

Ms Baillie said: “Not enough has been done to ensure easy access to antivirals for those at highest risk, whilst those suffering from Long Covid feel neglected.”

The MSP for Dumbarton added: “Frankly, Humza Yousaf’s approach to the virus has been to hear no evil and see no evil.

“That’s why I am making it simple for the cabinet secretary. Labour has set out a clear programme of action to keep people safe and protect the NHS.

“Humza Yousaf would be wise to heed our calls before the situation further deteriorates.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said that it continued to ask “people and businesses to take sensible precautions to protect themselves and others”.

“Vaccination continues to be our most effective tool against coronavirus. We await final advice from the JCVI regarding the autumn and winter booster programme and encourage everyone to receive the doses they are eligible for as and when they become available,” the spokesman said.

“We are working with boards to enhance NHS workforce levels from this already record high position, fill posts and create new roles.

“This action is backed by our £1 billion NHS Recovery Plan, which introduced a range of direct workforce investments and new measures to support boards’ capacity for both domestic and international recruitment.”

On Long Covid, the spokesman said that ministers recognise the impact it can have on people’s health and wellbeing.

“Given the range of symptoms which can be involved, we know there’s no one-size-fits-all response and our approach is to support people with Long Covid to access care and support in a setting that is appropriate and as close to their home as practicable,” a spokesman said.

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