Sturgeon: COP26 inevitably poses risk of increased Covid cases

The First Minister said her government was working with the UN and UK Government to make the summit a success.

Sturgeon: COP26 inevitably poses risk of increased Covid cases STV News
On Sunday, October 31, the UN climate summit officially begins.

The UN climate summit in Glasgow “inevitably” poses a risk of increased spread of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said that COP26 “is perhaps the world’s last chance to avert future climate catastrophe” and that the Scottish Government will do everything it can working with the UK Government to make it a success.

At Holyrood on Tuesday, Sturgeon said the hosting of the conference would always have been a significant challenge and the global pandemic made it more so.

She said: “I want to assure Parliament and the public, however, that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the United Nations and the UK Government to mitigate these risks as far as possible.”

On Sunday, October 31, the UN climate summit officially begins with 30,000 delegates expected to visit Glasgow along with thousands more protestors and activists.

“It is inevitably the case that it poses a risk of increased Covid transmission,” Sturgeon said.

She announced there would be no immediate return of Covid restrictions despite the NHS and social care sector being under more pressure than at any other time during the pandemic.

Those in the blue zone of COP26, where the main discussions will take place, will have to carry out daily lateral flow testing.

Some delegates have already arrived in the city for pre-sessional events.

Most will have received two doses of Covid-19 vaccines and those from outside the common travel area will have to show proof of a negative test.

Delegates from countries on the red list will have to stay in managed quarantine.

Sturgeon told MSPs that Scotland would align with the UK Government change to allow fully-vaccinated travellers returning from non-red list countries to take a lateral flow test rather than have to book a PCR test two days after arriving.

The change comes into place from 4am on Sunday, October 31.

Professor Devi Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group, said coronavirus restrictions may have to be reimposed in the aftermath of the climate conference.

Prof Sridhar’s comments echoed those of another Scottish Government adviser, Professor Linda Bauld, who said last week that holding the large-scale event was “risky”.

But health secretary Humza Yousaf previously said he believed the government could take the necessary steps to counter a potential spike caused by COP26.