Jeanne Freeman coronavirus briefing RECAP: Brazilian variant cases confirmed and care home visits resume as Scotland marks anniversary of first confirmed Covid-19 case
Follow here for all coronavirus updates from Scotland, the UK and around the world.
The Scottish Government announced the first case of Covid-19 on March 1 2020, in a Tayside resident who had recently travelled from Italy and was admitted to hospital and treated in isolation.
But one year of restrictions on and regular visiting is set to resume in care homes today, with residents allowed to have two designated visitors each.
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Coronavirus briefing RECAP: Health secretary Jeane Freeman gave an update on coronavirus in Scotland
Last updated: Monday, 01 March, 2021, 12:35
‘The border is leaking, it’s not a full proof system’ says Jason Leitch as new Brazilian variant is found in Scotland
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, National Clinical Director, Jason Leitch said that Scotland does more genetic testing than “any other country in the world” but that not everybody can be genetically tested.
He said that roughly one in ten samples are genetically tested at this prevalence.
“We do test all positives from high risk countries though”, he said.
“If you have come from South Africa or Brazil, the two high risk countries just now, we do send them for genetic testing.
“It’s not luck, it’s design. That’s how we’re protecting the people of Scotland, and the people of the UK, against new strains.
“But, the border is leaking, it’s not a full proof system, and the next variant might be Japanese, might be Malaysian, it could be Scottish of course, we could export it rather than import it.
“You can’t tell where the next troublesome one is going to come from.”
Jason Leitch says scientists are ‘a little worried’ about the Brazil variant because they don’t know how it will react to the immunity the vaccine offers
Speaking on GMS Prof Leitch said that people shouldn’t be concerned as there has been no community transmission and there is no evidence that it has “gone elsewhere”.
But he said that scientifically, they are a little worried because they are “not absolutely certain that this version is amenable to the natural immunity some people already have and the artificial immunity we’re creating with the vaccination.”
Jason Leitch says they are being ‘very cautious’ as they just don’t know enough about the new variant yet
“Everything we know says it should still be very effective, but we just can’t be sure yet because it just hasn’t been around long enough and the trials haven’t been completed.
“Vaccines are binary, it’s not like a paracetamol that gets rid of your headache or doesn’t get rid of your headache, it doesn’t work like that, it’s more of a continuum.
“So what might be true is that you might not have quite as much protection as you have from the existing variant but that might not be true, it may be that the vaccine effect this one just the same way, but that’s why we’re cautious.”
The travellers who tested positive for the Brazil variant did ‘nothing wrong’ says Prof Leitch
Prof Leitch said: “The measures that were in place at the time of this [the new variant arriving] were really quite rigorous.
“These individuals self isolated, they were from our high risk countries so they followed the instructions and there is no suggestion of any blame or concern about their behaviour, I think that’s very important.”
He continued: “There was some activity on social media last night suggesting they had done wrong, they have not.”
When asked if the current system would have flagged these individuals and called for them to be placed in quarantine hotels, Prof Leitch said yes, “they would have been caught by managed isolation across the whole of the UK, because they were from a high risk country.”
Prof Leitch is hopeful that all over 18’s in Scotland will be vaccinated ‘into July'
He said: “We’re hopeful that we can meet our aims of all the top nine groups being vaccinated by mid-April, and then all adults over 18 into July”.
“We’re hoping this week that we’ll see vaccination numbers rise after the last couple of weeks, we knew the last two weeks would be a bit of a dip, supply and demand rising up a little bit this week so i’m very hopeful we’ll get many more done this week”.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to lead today’s Covid-19 briefing
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is due to lead Monday’s coronavirus briefing at St Andrew’s House at 12.15pm.
At the start of the briefing she will give the latest Covid-19 statistics from the last 24 hours and offer an update on the vaccination programme.
Wales First Minister Mark Drakeford said he had ‘worries’ about Boris Johnson’s comments that international travel could return in May
Mr Drakeford said that he would instead “build the walls higher for now” to prevent bringing in coronavirus variants to the UK.
Mr Drakeford told a virtual meeting with Welsh businesses and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer: “It worries me hugely to hear the Prime Minister say that he intends to reopen international travel in May of this year.
“Our September in Wales was made far more difficult by the fact that we had a big importation of the virus from France, Spain, Greece, Bulgaria, Turkey. Every day I will be reading of new outbreaks of people who have gone away, caught the virus and brought it back with them.
“If ever there was a year to be staying at home and to be enjoying all the fantastic things Wales has to offer, this must be it.
“I would build the walls higher for now against the risk that we would bring into this country the variants that could be brewing in any part of the world, and could then put at risk all the careful work we have done to try and keep Wales safe.”
Prince Philip: Patient screened from cameras as they are taken away from hospital where Duke of Edinburgh is undergoing treatment
A patient appears to have been taken away from the hospital treating the Duke of Edinburgh in an ambulance.
The patient at King Edward VII’s hospital in central London was screened from press and broadcast cameras by umbrellas.
A marked police van blocked the side street at the hospital where the Duke has been treated for an infection.
Uniformed officers also stood along the street beside the King Edward VII’s Hospital in central London where Philip, 99, was admitted on February 16 to keep traffic and passers by moving.