Mistakes were made by the Scottish Government from the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the leader of the Scottish Tories has said.
Jackson Carlaw’s comments come in the same week as a report from academics at Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities suggests that “a lack of robust measures” to stop travellers from other countries entering Scotland may have “accelerated the course of the outbreak”.
Of the 113 cases of coronavirus linked to travel from abroad, most were from Italy – where cases spiked earlier in the pandemic – while other cases were reported with links to Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France and England.
Mr Carlaw said: “The SNP government likes to think it has talked a very good game on this.
“But the fact is, mistakes were made right from the start, and they continue to this day.
“It was the Scottish Government’s responsibility to respond to these challenges, and now this expert paper says that response did not go far enough.
“The initial response from the SNP wasn’t good enough, and nor is the current action we’re seeing now.
“The SNP messed up on travel advice in the same way it’s now messing up on testing and care homes.”
The report, which was published on Tuesday, also suggested that community transmission of the virus could have taken place in Scotland in February – earlier than was first thought.
The outbreak linked to the Nike conference in Edinburgh in late February also showed the risks of gatherings of people in spreading the virus, the researchers suggest.
The report said: “The role of this event in dispersing the virus locally and internationally, before a single case had been identified in Scotland, demonstrates that governments should be wary of prematurely relaxing restrictions on large gatherings and international travel.”
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “The Scottish Tories’ attempts to politicise this crisis get more desperate by the day – but even by their standards Jackson Carlaw’s comments are bizarre.
“It is the UK Government and his Tory colleagues who are wholly responsible for controlling border policy – so if his argument is that restrictions on travellers into the UK should have been introduced sooner, he should take it up with Boris Johnson.
“In terms of the guidance on self-isolation for returning travellers, this was agreed on a UK-wide basis – exactly the four-nations approach which Mr Carlaw has repeatedly called for.
“In his desperation to attack the Scottish Government he has only succeeded in undermining his own colleagues, who must be hoping Mr Carlaw keeps silent from now on.”