First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been challenged over whether details of future clusters of Covid-19 will be made public after she was accused of keeping an outbreak linked to a Nike conference “secret”.
Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said people should have been told about the spread of the disease at the event in Edinburgh.
A delegate from abroad is understood to have passed on coronavirus to 25 people at the event, held at the Hilton Carlton Hotel on February 26 and 27, days before Scotland’s first case of the virus was confirmed.
But the incident was not made public until it was revealed in a BBC documentary.
Ms Sturgeon was pressed on her administration’s handling of events as the latest figures showed a total 3,546 suspected and confirmed coronavirus-related deaths had been recorded in Scotland by May 17.
There were 332 deaths relating to Covid-19 registered between May 11 and 17, a decrease of 83 from the previous seven days and the third consecutive weekly drop, figures from the National Records of Scotland showed.
Ms Sturgeon, who is due to reveal a route map for easing lockdown restrictions on Thursday, said the new statistics “provide further grounds for encouragement”.
But Mr Carlaw said the figures underlined the “enormity of this tragedy” as he pressed the First Minister on “keeping the Nike conference outbreak a public secret”.
Challenging her at First Minster’s Questions, he demanded to know if details of any such future incidents would be made public.
He said: “The public were not told. First Minister, clearly this was the wrong call, the public should have been told.
“People need to know what the Scottish Government will do should the virus be found in this kind of public location in future.
“If and when contact tracers confirm a positive case over the coming weeks, and we discover that person has been in a public place where close contact may have occurred, like the Nike conference, will the public be told?”
Ms Sturgeon said “that consideration would be at the heart of our approach to test, trace, isolate” – the strategy the Scottish Government is implementing as it considers how the country can move out of lockdown.
She said contact tracing took place after the February conference and more than 60 people in Scotland and some 50 in England were traced.
The First Minister criticised the “terminology of secrecy” and “cover-up”, which has been levelled at her following the conference.
Claims like this, she said, “impugn the integrity of the experts who managed this outbreak”.
She told Mr Carlaw: “It is not me, it is not the Health Secretary, is it not rightly any politician who decides when an outbreak is being managed who gets contacted and who gets traced, that is for experienced people used to dealing with these situations to do.
“And I have confidence in how they did that.”
Mr Carlaw responded: “It is perfectly clear from the litany of organisations who were at that conference that it absolutely did not happen. This was a mistake.
“Surely the job over the coming weeks will be made easier if the Government is completely transparent about when and where outbreaks occur? In fact it is essential that they do.”
Ms Sturgeon said while the cases from the Nike conference were “all reported in the normal way through our daily figures”, patient confidentiality meant the connection to the conference was not revealed.
“There were only 10 people from Scotland at this conference,” she said.
“When we reported as we did, that X patient from Y health board had been confirmed, had we also said where that person had got the virus we would almost certainly have identified them, because they were probably the only person from that health board at the event.”
But she said consideration of confidentiality changed “when you are further into an epidemic and the number of cases are different”.
She added: “That is why as we go into test, trace, isolate.
“Yes, of course we look at the circumstances in which, where there is a cluster of cases, that is made public.”
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