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Scotland is ‘fighting the epidemic with one arm behind our back’

Scottish Labour calls the SNP's test & protect system into question

by Niall Christie
Scotland editor

THE ability of Scotland’s test & protect system was called into question by Labour today, which said the country was “fighting the epidemic with one arm behind our back.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard challenged SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on Scotland’s testing number during First Minister’s Questions in Holyrood yesterday, after a key adviser cast doubt on the scheme’s effectiveness.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, a member of the First Minister’s advisory group, said that “we are only finding half or even less than half” of those infected with Covid-19.

Mr Leonard questioned the current model of contact-tracing, which relies heavily on text messages, and asked whether the system will continue to cope if mass testing is implemented. 

He said: “First Minister, yesterday you said that you were looking into a roll-out of community mass testing at greater scale — which I welcome — but when will this start? Where will this start? And when will Scotland stop fighting the epidemic with one arm behind our back?”

Ms Sturgeon said the number of tests being done in Scotland was lower compared with other parts of Britain due to the lower prevalence of the virus north of the border.

Labour’s call came as the First Minister announced a new set of restrictions. 

Reducing which shops can offer click-and-collect services, strengthening the law requiring staff to work from home and closing a loophole in the stay-at-home order are among the changes, all of which will come into effect on Saturday.

Ms Sturgeon said the public should adhere “to the spirit, not just the letter” of these laws. 

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