Covid second wave is a real risk so please download the Protect Scotland app – Angus Robertson

As Covid-19 coronavirus infections spike in countries like France, Spain and Israel, which has gone back into full lockdown, Scotland needs everyone to work together, writes Angus Robertson.

By Angus Robertson
Tuesday, 15th September 2020, 7:30 am
Nicola Sturgeon has downloaded the Protect Scotland App – so will you follow suit? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Nicola Sturgeon has downloaded the Protect Scotland App – so will you follow suit? (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Hundreds of thousands of people across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Scotland have signed up to the new campaign to combat coronavirus. As worrying signs emerge of a potential second pandemic wave, more than 900,000 people have downloaded the Protect Scotland App, which helps in the national contact tracing effort. Using bluetooth technology to flag close contact with anyone who has tested positive for Covid-19, the app is easily downloadable from Apple App Store and Google Play.

Unfortunately, fears are growing that the numbers of confirmed new cases in the UK does not reflect the actual number of infections following recent problems with testing. Scotland, England and Wales have now all introduced the ‘Rule of Six’ to reduce the risk of growing infection levels. Limiting social gatherings to six people from two households is an easy to remember rule, and comes as reports grow of social distancing being disregarded by a minority. In Edinburgh, a group of more than 40 teenagers cycled without masks on bikes from the Meadows, along Princess Street to Haymarket. In St Andrews the police were called after more than 50 people congregated on the beach.

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The consequences of failing social distancing is the return of the pandemic and a second wave of coronavirus. In France more than 10,000 new cases have been reported on one day. In neighbouring Spain the trends are also worrying, while things have got so bad in Israel that a second complete lockdown has been ordered across the country.

Experts like Professor Devi Sridhar are warning us that: “Things not looking good in the UK (massive understatement). The Chair of Global Public Health at Edinburgh University Medical School said: “We all need to act like we could have Covid-19 and minimise close physical contact with those outside our household. Need to avoid awful decisions about Covid versus non-Covid harm. And if hospitals start filling up with patients arriving needing emergency care, (this is) going to put other NHS services at risk. Everyone loses if numbers continue to increase.”

That is why following the social distancing rules and the general use of the Protect Scotland app is key. Even traditional sceptics of state intrusion are supporting its use. Pat Kane, who writes on technology issues and is a strong privacy campaigner, believes the app is “striking the right balance”. Reviewing comparable international systems, Kane said: “We’re in a global landscape where some nations have chosen pretty draconian options . . . I would assess that the Scottish Covid app has fallen on the privacy-conscious side of the line.”

Information is key in the battle with coronavirus, whether for test and protect efforts or with direct public health advice to members of the public. Until now the daily Scottish Government public update has been covered in full by the state broadcaster. The First Minister, other government ministers and experts have shared developments and answered questions on a daily basis. For some inexplicable reason the BBC has decided to ditch live coverage of the health briefings.

Just at the time we should be pulling together to unify efforts to beat Covid-19, we are being let down by a partisan minority who don’t like seeing the First Minister being competent and giving impartial non-political health advice. We need to pull together to take the renewed coronavirus threat seriously and promote the widest possible use of the Protect Scotland App.

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