Nicola Sturgeon has apologised for the calamitous roll-out of the Scottish Government’s Covid vaccine passport app while blaming it on an issue with NHS systems.
The certification scheme became available for download on Thursday afternoon, less than 12 hours before the law requiring proof of vaccination to access certain venues and events came into force.
Immediately many users ran into problems with getting the app to show their vaccine status, or to even recognise that they existed in NHS records.
In a statement to the Scottish Parliament today, the first minister apologised to the users and businesses that had been affected by the issues.
She said: “I am well aware that many people found it extremely difficult to use the app initially.
“I know this caused extreme frustration for users who wanted to download the app as quickly as possible, and also for businesses and events organisers who were planning to tests their certification systems over the weekend, and I apologise for that.
“The problem was not with the app itself, but with the NHS systems that it links to.
“Essentially, the high level of demand after the launch of the app, combined with an error in one part of the NHS system, meant that information wasn’t being sent quickly enough from the NHS system to the app.”
Ms Sturgeon said the initial backlog of people waiting for their information to be matched had been cleared by Saturday lunchtime, almost two days after the launch of the app.
Yesterday, major changes were made to the system of international travel from the UK, with the Scottish Government relaxing measures in line with Westminster.
The green and amber lists have now been scrapped, and replaced with a simpler way of separating Covid-safe countries from more risky ones.
There is now only a red list, and all countries not on that list have the same requirements.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Just as we have worked hard to get domestic life back to normal as much as possible, so too do we want, in an appropriately careful way, to bring greater normality back to international travel as well.
Everyone returning from a country that is not on the red list, who are double vaccinated or under the age of 18, no longer need to provide proof of a negative test result before they travel to Scotland.
There is still a requirement for passengers to take a Covid test on day two after arrival back in Scotland, and due to need for increased accuracy in practice that is likely to be a PCR test.
Additionally, 18 countries including Canada, Australia and New Zealand have joined the EU and USA in having their vaccine programmes recognised for the purpose of travel to the UK.
What is the context for today’s statement?
There were 21 new deaths of people with Covid in the past 24 hours, with the Highlands and Dundee recording two and Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire both recording one.
The number of people in hospital with the virus has dropped back below 1,000 after rising yesterday, and there are currently 998 patients.
Of those people, 65 are being treated in intensive care units – a decline of two from yesterday.
There were 2,056 new cases of Covid recorded across Scotland in the past day, 296 more than yesterday but still indicative of a clear decline since the peak of the third wave at the end of August.
The 0-14 age range currently accounts for a third of all new cases.
Yesterday’s case positivity rate was 10.3%, an increase from 9.4% the day before.