Jackie Baillie, MSP for Dumbarton, has said that the report cited by the Chief Medical Officer which showed Covid-19 being present in Scotland since February, highlights how unprepared Scotland was in the face of the pandemic.
The genomic report (meaning a report which examines when and how certain genes and genetic information interacted, contributing to the spread of Covid-19) highlighted that the initial spread within Scotland was due to a series of community transmissions which were left undetected. Jackie Baillie says this shows that initial efforts to track and trace did not work.
The report also shows that significant failures occurred in tracking and reducing the spread of the virus from travellers arriving into Scotland from abroad. The report said that there was “a lack of robust measures to manage infected travellers from emerging pandemic hotspots [which] may have accelerated the course of the outbreak in Scotland and the UK as a whole.”
Jackie Baillie was the first MSP to raise concerns in the Scottish Parliament regarding the extent to which Scotland was prepared to fight this virus. On 20 February, Jackie Baillie had an exchange with Nicola Sturgeon at First Minister’s questions when she raised concerns regarding the extent to which NHS Scotland was prepared for a Covid-19 outbreak. In reply, the First Minister confirmed that the health service was well equipped and that the situation was under control.
She was contacted by many local GPs at the beginning of March who feared that they were seeing patients who were presenting symptoms and that there was a significant lack of PPE. Baillie raised the concerns of these GPs in the Scottish Parliament with the First Minister on 12 March and urged her to start lockdown immediately.
Jackie Baillie MSP said:
“This report is telling us what GPs and other healthcare professionals were telling us months ago – that Scotland was severely underprepared to fight this virus and that only urgent and immediate action would help mitigate a significant loss of life.
“Unfortunately, no effort was made to listen to these frontline experts and as a result Scotland has seen some of the highest per capita death rates out of all the affected countries.
“Our health and social care sector was shockingly ill-prepared to deal with Covid-19 and the time that it took to eventually ensure that staff had proper protection was utterly unacceptable.
“The Scottish Government seems to have been one step behind the virus from the very beginning and its’ failure to act has seen our economy crash and our health service come under severe pressure.
“Serious questions need to be asked in the coming weeks and months as we begin to rebuild and recover and thousands of people come to terms with the impact on their lives.”