Covid-19 hit Nike conference delegates 'taken on walking tour' around Edinburgh with no contact tracing
Delegates from the Covid-19 Nike conference were taken on a walking tour of Edinburgh during their event but the tour guide was not contacted by the Scottish Government afterwards, a Labour MP has claimed.
The new claims around the conference at the Hilton Edinburgh Carlton Hotel on February 27 state that a walking tour operator was not included in any contact tracing undertaken by the Scottish Government.
Ian Murray, the Labour MP for Edinburgh South, said he had been contacted directly by the tour guides who wished to remain anonymous.
They claimed the delegates were split into smaller parties and led on walking tours of the Old Town.
The guides had no follow-up and were not included in any contact tracing, said the firm, with no guides showing symptoms of coronavirus.
It follows reports last night that 20 Lloyds Banking Group staff shared hotel facilities with Nike delegates, and reports at the weekend that a kilt fitter in Edinburgh and staff who shared an office with Nike in Glasgow became unwell shortly after the conference.
None were contacted by the Scottish Government, it is claimed.
Mr Murray said:
“As every day passes, the scale of the failure to contact trace those who engaged with Nike delegates becomes clearer.
“How many local residents did the delegates come into close contact with during the walking tour?
“This demonstrates why the Scottish Government was wrong to cover-up the ground-zero outbreak.
“If the government had been honest with the Edinburgh public about a major outbreak in the city centre, those who met with delegates could have come forward to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“It’s time for Nicola Sturgeon to admit her government made a major error of judgement and for an apology to the people of Edinburgh.”
Responding to questions on the incident at her daily briefing on Covid-19, the First Minister said the reasons behind not releasing the information into the public domain about the conference were “legitimate”.
She said patient confidentiality was balanced against public health concerns and said an incident management team made the decision on what level of contact tracing was need.
Ms Sturgeon also flatly denied there was a cover-up of the event.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The real reason and actually a legitimate reason, when case numbers were so low, and when the number of attendees from Scotland at this conference were also so low, that to have named the event would almost certainly have identified the patients.
“Patient confidentiality is a legitimate reason, that said it is also legitimate, and I want to be very clear about this, for people to question that that should have been the overriding consideration and, certainly as First Minister and the government, reflect on that and listen carefully to those views.
“The fact that a particular decision was made about public information based on patient confidentiality does not influence or reduce the fact that the incident management team was dealing with it from a public health protection perspective.
“For that [a cover-up] to be true of the government it would have to have been true of non-political public health experts. That is not the case. What possible motive would their have been to do that?
“I accept that people will look at this and say actually we think you should have reached a different judgement, that is legitimate and I accept that and we reflect on that.
“But I hope people will understand both the reasons for the decisions that were made, which were legitimate reasons at the time even if some will disagree with them, but also the strenuous efforts that are always made in these cases through the incident management team procedure, to deal with the public health protection issues.”
Commenting yesterday, a spokesman for the Scottish government said: “All appropriate steps were taken to ensure public health was protected.
“All of the cases linked to this event were assessed by their close contact, or contact with conference delegates who tested positive after the event so public health authorities were satisfied that there was minimal infection risk.
“NHS Lothian and Edinburgh City Council worked closely with the conference venue to provide advice for close contacts of delegates and infection prevention and control considerations.
“Given that there were cases in England, Public Health England was also part of the Incident Management team, which was provided with full details surrounding the circumstances of the infections.
“The Scottish Government has been entirely consistent in its handling and publication of information relating to positive cases of Covid-19 in Scotland.”