Scotland Enters Full Lockdown To Further Curb Spread Of Covid-19

Nicola Sturgeon recently announced that mainland Scotland would be placed in full lockdown for the duration of January.

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The first minister made an emergency statement last week that claimed all of Scotland’s schools would remain closed for the entirety of January, and students would continue out an online learning environment. The lockdown is also the result of the spreading of the new Covid variant in the UK. 

The new lockdown measures will mimic what the nation experienced back in March when the virus first started spreading. All measures will be legally enforced and will greatly restrict who has the ability to travel among and out of the country. The Scottish government’s cabinet agreed to all the specific measures early Monday morning. 

Scotland hasn’t seen nearly the same amount of new hospitalizations that England has experienced with the new strain, however, the number of positive cases appearing every day has hit record-setting highs for consecutive days last week; hitting a high of 2,464 new cases on Sunday. Sturgeon claimed that she’s more worried about the threat that Covid-19 is posing now than it was back in March, especially with this new strain that’s thought to be more infectious than the regular strain we’ve been experiencing.

“The approval of two vaccines was hugely positive and offered us the way out of this pandemic, but the faster spreading variant was a massive blow.”

Lockdown couldn’t have come at a more critical time for the nation either as NHS boards were facing intense pressures due to the massive influx in new cases and hospitalizations. 96% of all Covid-19 beds in Ayrshire and Arran are full and 60% in the Greater Glasgow, Clyde, Borders, and Lanarkshire beds are as well. 

Scotland and other European countries also are waiting until tomorrow to receive a true count of new hospitalizations and cases, as a lot of the public sectors that are typically responsible for recording that data were off for the holidays this weekend. Within the last week of December, however, “the seven-day incidence of cases per 100,000 people increased by 65%, from 136 to 225,” according to those sectors. 

“That increased faster spread is undoubtedly driving the very serious situation we now face. Today’s case numbers – 1,905 new cases, with 15% of tests being positive – illustrate the severity and urgency of the situation,” Sturgeon claimed, adding that the government’s main duty right now is to save lives and protect all the healthcare workers and industries within Europe that are struggling to cope with this pandemic right now.

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“We know that delaying the enforcement of safety measures in the face of this virus almost always makes things worse not better – even if it stems from an understandable desire to wait for more data or evidence.”

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Mainland Scotland is currently on the level 4 tier of Scotland’s Covid alert system; 4 is the highest level a particular place can be in terms of the amount of infections, hospitalizations, and deaths. Sturgeon claimed that Scotland’s island groups – the Western Isles, Shetland and Orkney – are remaining at the level 3 tier for now, but regardless all schools in the islands will also be closing for the time being; level 3 doesn’t necessarily require the closings of all schools and businesses. 

There are some parties in Scotland, however, that oppose all of the school closings in the name of children’s mental health. For example, Bruce Adamson, Scottish children’s commissioner, recently claimed that the implementation of online learning across Scotland was too erratic and needed to be improved or parents will see a continuous deterioration in their child’s motivation, and overall mental well-being. 

Sturgeon said that the country is already looking into increasing vaccinations of school and nursery staff to improve the chances of schools reopening by February, however, Scotland will not be able to change any UK-wide rules regarding the pandemic; Boris Johnson is expected to deliver a press conference later this evening to the UK in which new lockdown measures will likely be announced. 

So far 100,000 Scottish residents have received their first dose of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and with the UK being the first nation to approve of AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, it’s expected that one million people will receive their first dose by the end of the month. The other major point of contention over this lockdown is what it will entail in terms of financial support for those who no can’t go out for work; this will also likely be addressed by Johnson later today.