Increasing restrictions in high case areas would be ‘difficult’

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday that Glasgow would remain at the higher level for at least another week.

Increasing restrictions in high case areas would be ‘difficult’ PA Media

Moving parts of Scotland in Level 2 of coronavirus restrictions with high case rates to higher levels would be “difficult”, a public health expert has said.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, spoke about the reasons behind Glasgow being the sole council area in Scotland remaining in Level 3 of the Scottish Government’s five-tier restriction system.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced on Friday the local authority would remain at the higher level for at least another week due to an “uncomfortably high” level of cases amid an outbreak driven by the Indian variant of the virus.

She said a decision would be made by Wednesday at the latest on whether the city can move to Level 2 next Saturday.

People in the city are not able to meet other households indoors in their homes and there are stricter restrictions on hospitality, including a ban on selling alcohol indoors.

Non-essential travel in and out of the city is prohibited.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Ms Bauld said the Scottish Government has “stalled” Glasgow in Level 3 due to concern about whether rising cases are leading to more people in hospital.

“They are just hanging on a little bit longer to make sure they can be confident that cases are not translating to more people in hospital,” she said.

“In contrast, there are worrying signs in parts of Edinburgh – Silverknowes and Davidson’s Mains.

“In Renfrewshire and Midlothian there are high cases but because they are already in Level 2 to then reverse that, policy-wise, would be more difficult.”

Speaking on the same programme, Stephen Reicher from the University of St Andrews and a member of the Sage sub-committee advising on behavioural science, said caution is the correct approach over the Glasgow outbreak.

He said: “We’ll find out within a week or two exactly how serious it is. If it’s very bad, we’ll learn in a week or so. If it’s bad, we’ll learn in a couple of weeks.

“I think it’s worth pausing for a moment or two rather than to have to face the possibility of going back to the really dark days of January and February.”

He added: “Hospitalisations are going up at moment, we’re not yet seeing increases in people at intensive care units and thankfully we’re not seeing deaths yet.

“The real danger is if you wait until you’re certain then the difficulty is it might be too late, you might have reseeded this variant and we might then inevitably in two or three weeks’ time see the terrible statistics in ICUs and deaths going up.”