Scots 'should quarantine in Covid hotel' after positive test, says expert

Scots should quarantine in hotels after recording a positive Covid-19 test, according to a leading epidemiologist.

By Brian Monteith
Monday, 26th October 2020, 12:30 pm
Updated Monday, 26th October 2020, 12:45 pm

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at Aberdeen University, told the Daily Telegraph the commandeering of hotels could be the “only solution” to fears that Scots are not self isolating following a positive test.

Such Covid hotels have been used in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea.

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Scots should be asked to quarantine in Covid hotels after a positive test, says Professor Hugh Pennington

Citizens flying back into Australia, for example, are required to quarantine for 14 days in a so-called ‘Covid hotel’ at their own expense before being allowed to mix amongst the community.

Prof Pennington told the national newspaper the biggest issue behind the recent rise in Covid cases in Scotland was a failure by people to self-isolate.

“The data suggests that only about 20 per cent of people are fully self-isolating when they are asked to, which drives a coach and horses through the Test and Protect system,” he said.

“You can test until your heart’s content, but if people aren’t acting on the basis of the result if it’s positive, you might as well not have tested them in the first place.

Professor Hugh Pennington

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is considering the proposal to have Covid hotels to allow carriers to voluntarily isolate away from their families until they are no longer infectious.

The proposal has been backed by Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, as a means of suppressing coronavirus.

Ms Sturgeon last week introduced a new five-tier system to battle the surge in coronavirus cases.

But the Scottish Government has otherwise taken a softer approach to penalising those who flout coronavirus restrictions, with police only having the powers to issue a fixed £60 fine north of the Border compared to the threat of a £4,000 fine in England.

Prof Sridhar has suggested the Covid ‘hotel’ facilities should be managed by the NHS.

A study produced out of King’s College London found fewer than one in five people UK-wide had self-isolated after becoming ill with Covid symptoms.

“It’s major problem,” Prof Pennington told the Daily Telegraph.

“The only solution that would actually work in practice is to put people in hotels, which is what they’ve done in Australia and New Zealand.”