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Measures yet to be announced

Would just like to emphasise that unfortunately further measures may be announced next week because the virus appears to be spreading like wildfire and authorities are concerned that it could overwhelm the NHS. Ten days ago Omicron made up 2% of cases in Scotland – now it is 27%. It is also ripping through areas such as London (which has a lower vaccination rate) and in the run-up to Xmas many London residents head to other parts of the UK. Government scientists expect that today Britain will have between 300,000 and 400,000 new Omicron infections. From today if you contract Covid you are likely to spend Christmas Day in isolation.

Last winter’s wave saw a peak of 3,768 hospital admissions in a single day. The best case scenario predicted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine would see admissions in the UK peak at around 2,000. The worst case would see them hit more than 6,000.

Fingers crossed the big vaccination drive is successful.

It was Dec 19 last year when the tightest restrictions were revealed. Yesterday the First Minister said that the Scot Govt had wanted to impose harsher restrictions but “Our public health response is curtailed by lack of finance.”  It sounds like she wanted to take more measures affecting business but seeks more funds from Westminster to cover compensation.

This morning on BBC’s Good Morning Scotland John Swinney the Deputy First Minister said they have been considering:

  • Social distancing
  • Limiting the numbers of people in shops and other venues

He said they are extremely reluctant to do this because they know it jeopardises businesses and livelihoods. “We hope that we’ve done enough with the announcements made yesterday and we hope that members of the public and businesses will work with us in a co-operative spirit to make sure that we can take these provisions forward.”  However he added: “We have a variant that is very powerful that is growing at an alarming rate and we face a very severe situation.”

A respiratory expert Prof James Chalmers of Dundee University on Good Morning Scotland immediately after Swinney said his instinct is that the Scot Govt might:

  • as last year make limited household mixing compulsory rather that voluntary
  • crack down on large public gatherings. (Swinney was challenged on radio about pantos – why is it ok to attend these potentially super spreader events but not ok to mix with more than three households even though you know friends and family and trust what they say about their test results).

The official figures indicate 300 Omicron cases in Scotland. This is widely acknowledged to be the tip of the iceberg. The BBC’s Health Correspondent Lisa Summers has compared this period to preparation for a storm. This strain of the virus may prove to be milder than feared – but we can’t wait until it is here to make preparations. Prof Chalmers confirmed currently there are large gaps in our knowledge and we are likely to have better data next week indicating:

  • to what degree the vaccines protect us
  • how severe the illness will be in the UK ( Ministers have been advised not to draw comfort from the figures in the point of origin South Africa where the population is younger and has already been impacted by three massive previous waves of Covid)
  • how well the NHS is coping

Measures announced December 14, 2021

We’ll get more detailed guidance from the Scot Govt on these measures announced in outline yesterday. For now we know:

  • Retailers to bring back “physical distancing, measures to control the flow of customers and protective screens” at cash desks – to protect customers and workers. The “kind of protections in place at the start of the pandemic”.
  • No extension to the vaccine passport scheme to hospitality and events
  • Hospitality will be expected to reinstate measures “to avoid crowding at bars and between tables”
  • Physical distancing will be promoted inside stores, with limits on the number of people allowed in stores at one time.
  • Shops will also be asked to install protective measures to protect customers and workers.
  • By law must work from home if possible
  • Limited mixing – 3 households (voluntary)
  • Schools will remain open ‘if at all possible’

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