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Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid advisory group warns of ‘risks’ of Glasgow hosting COP26

The Scottish Government’s Covid advisory group has flagged up the “potential scale of risks” from Glasgow hosting COP26.

Experts also warned of the “pressure” the international climate crisis event could place on Scotland’s precarious grip on controlling the virus.

Concerns exist that high covid levels and a sluggish uptake in booster jabs could put the NHS under unprecedented strain in the winter.

The delicate situation is complicated by the prospect of tens of thousands of people flocking to Glasgow later this month for COP26.

If the gathering results in covid cases skyrocketing, there are fears coronavirus restrictions may have to be reimposed.

A minute of a September meeting of the Scottish Government’s covid advisory group addressed the concerns about COP26.

It stated: “Modellers noted that there are significant challenges to building COP26 into modelling long term, given the exceptional nature of this event. Group members considered the level of interaction between attendees and the wider population and the impact fringe events and protests during COP26 may have on the course of the pandemic in Scotland.

“Data is showing variable impact between events, for instance when comparing the impact of the Euro 2020 and Silverstone. It is important to recognise the heterogeneity of events.”

However, the minute added: “COP26 will present unique challenges and the group noted the importance of recognising the potential scale of risks posed by this event and the pressure this could add to the system.”

It comes as Professor Devi Sridahar, who sits on the advisory group, expressed her concerns about the effects of COP26 on the deadly virus.

On Twitter, she responded to a question about whether the event will make the coronavirus situation in Scotland worse and lead to new curbs on freedoms.

She wrote: “I could be wrong (and hope I am) but yes.

“A mass event (with major movement of people in & out) with an infectious virus will cause an increase in cases. While in the case of COVID will put stress on limited health services. Which triggers need for further restrictions.”

Another respected voice on the pandemic, Professor Linda Bauld, had previously sounded the alarm on COP26.

She told Times Radio: “Yes, I am worried about a Glaswegian spike, and I’m not worried just about Glasgow. The central belt is interconnected.

“And we’re seeing declines here but we may not be able to hang on to those gains.

“We’re trying to open up and everything’s trying to operate more normally.

“Everybody’s delighted to be able to go to the cinema or a concert or have more people in their homes.

“This is hard-won progress thanks to vaccines and other things.

“But having huge mass events at the moment, I think it is risky.”

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