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First Minister criticises Downing Street for failing to consult on 'air bridges' as Scotland reports fourth day without Covid-19 deaths

By Alasdair Fraser

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Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland has reached the fourth day in a row without any deaths from a confirmed case of Covid-19, according to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

She welcomed the news that there is now “no doubt” that the figures illustrate the progress that Scotland is making in combating the virus.

However that could be put at risk after Downing Street announced its air bridges policy – which allows travel to and from certain countries without imposing a quarantine – with no consultation with Edinburgh.

The risk, Ms Sturgeon said, was proportionately higher now than before as Scotland begins to bring the virus under the chance of the infection being imported has now escalated and is a danger not just to health but the economy.

It means that it will take time for Scotland to provide a response to the policy after seeing the scientific evidence that underpins the UK government position.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I can report today that there were an additional five cases confirmed yesterday, which takes the total now in Scotland to 18,241 confirmed cases, a total of 740 patients are currently in hospital virus either either confirmed or suspected – that is 38 fewer than yesterday overall.

“And in the past 24-hours, I am pleased to report that no deaths were registered of a patient confirmed through a test as having Covid-19 – the total number of deaths in Scotland under that measurement therefore remains at 2482.

“This is the fourth day in a row when no deaths of patients confirmed through a test have been recorded in Scotland, two of those days have been at the weekend when we know that registration can be artificially low at weekends.

“But there's no doubt that these recent figures demonstrate beyond any doubt how much progress Scotland has made in tackling Covid-19 and the that is down to the sacrifices and efforts of everyone across the country. I want again to say a heartfelt thank you to you all.”

The First Minister also hit out at Downing Street over its air routes policy, saying: “The UK government made its announcement on what are called air bridges which allow travel to from certain countries without quarantine restrictions unfortunately without any prior consultation at all with the Scottish government.

“As a result we are still considering a response and our own proposals, the Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf was part of a four-way phone discussion with Michael Gove and the other devolved administration earlier today.

“This is an issue on which we have tried very hard to work closely with the UK government and other devolved administration and we can and do see the benefits of adopting a consistent approach across all parts of the UK.

“However, we also know the quarantine measures albeit perhaps on a more targeted basis in the future may become more important in Scotland rather than less as our infection rates fall since then the relative impact of new cases from outside Scotland potentially becomes greater.

“And of course the prospect of cases coming in from elsewhere poses a risk not just to health but also to our economy, we also want to take a bit of time to consider the public health impact of the UK proposals as well as the data and evidence underpinning them which hopefully we'll see before too long and we will once we have had the opportunity to do so.”

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