Scotland’s national clinical director has warned younger people are not immune to coronavirus because they are “14 or 34” and must follow guidelines to protect themselves during the pandemic.
Professor Jason Leitch emphasised Covid-19 is “not always easier” for teenagers and young adults when taking questions on Scotland Tonight, adding the Scottish Government is “trying to protect the whole population at once”.
While, the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions are in a higher risk group in relation to the dangers posed by coronavirus, Professor Leitch echoed sentiments previously expressed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon that the young and healthy need to take the pandemic seriously.
“You’re not immune because you’re 14 or 34,” he said. “You’ve got to do the same thing at every age to protect your granny or your grandpa, but also to protect yourself.”
Prior to that advice, Professor Leitch said: “This disease affects younger people too. However, the graph that rises, rises with age. So the mortality graph and the serious illness graph rises with age.
“We have never said young people don’t get this disease. It’s just usually easier for them but it is not always easier for them.
“It is also usually easier for you if you don’t have pre-existing conditions but not always so some people are at risk, even though they are not old and don’t have pre-existing conditions.
“Hence the reason we’re trying to protect the whole population at once. We’re spending particular attention on those that are most vulnerable but everybody has to be careful.”
“… of our first 40 or 50, all of those cases had pre-existing conditions that made us realise they were vulnerable to that Covid-19.”Professor Jason Leitch, Scottish Government
Speaking about the global trends, he added: “That vulnerable group make up a big percentage, so 70 to 80 per cent of those who die usually have something about age or vulnerability in them.”
Professor Leitch continued: “In Scotland the numbers are still small enough that to go into individual details is still quite tricky for patient confidentiality reasons but of our first 40 or 50, all of those cases had pre-existing conditions that made us realise they were vulnerable to that Covid-19.”
The advice comes days after a 13-year-old with no apparent underlying conditions in England died after testing positive for coronavirus.
Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab from Brixton, south London, died in hospital in the early hours of Monday.
‘In it for the long haul’
Professor Leitch was also asked when he expected to see a decline in the Covid-19 numbers in Scotland, to which he stressed the country is “in it for the long haul”.
He said: “I’m hopeful that will be within weeks and months but it’s going to be a long haul. This is not going to be done by Easter and any suggestion it’s going to be done by Easter is misjudged, so we’re going to have to keep going.
“When we get stability and then downturn, we’ll then be able to slowly remove some of these counter measures but it won’t happen overnight.”
Watch Professor Leitch answer viewers’ questions on Scotland Tonight on the STV Player.