Responding to comments made by the National Clinical Director Jason Leitch about the need to protect areas of lower prevalence, Orkney’s MSP Liam McArthur (pictured) has called for an urgent decision to be made over the introduction of testing ahead of travel to the islands.
During a session of the Scottish Parliament’s COVID-19 Committee, Professor Leitch said:
“I would say if Orkney get to single figure numbers, we should protect Orkney from importation from the Scottish mainland.
“If Scotland gets to low numbers, we should protect Scotland from importation.
“If the UK gets to low numbers, we should protect the UK from importation and if we can get both islands and our surrounding islands to low numbers, we should protect that whole five countries and we should do that using vaccination, restrictions to our population and importation restrictions.”
Commenting, Mr McArthur said:
“Where there are low levels of virus, we should be doing everything possible to keep it that way.
“The Northern Isles continue to see a lower prevalence compared to the Scottish mainland, and it is in everyone’s interest to keep it that way.
“I have been making the case for testing ahead of travel to the islands for weeks now.
“So far Ministers have confirmed that the case is being considered, but no firm conclusions reached.
“Professor Leitch’s intervention today strengthens that case but also reinforces the importance of putting in place appropriate protections.
“I know ongoing discussions are taking place with the island authorities on a range of different issues.
“However, Scottish Ministers now need to set out how they see testing at ports and airports to work in practice.
“We all want to see restrictions eased as quickly as possible but this needs to be done safely and with a continued focus on protecting the public.”