Scotland now treating Covid 'like any other virus', says health expert

Professor Linda Bauld said while the pandemic was not over, positive steps have been made as restrictions are eased further

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Scotland is now treating Covid-19 like any other virus, a public health expert has said.

Professor Linda Bauld said while the pandemic was not over, positive steps have been made as restrictions are eased further.

Scotland’s coronavirus restrictions will be eased further this weekend as self-isolation requirements are set to be scrapped.

Instead, Scots will be advised to “stay at home” if they are unwell, according to the Scottish Government.

New guidance said those with symptoms no longer need to take a PCR and mass testing will end from April 30 as testing sites close and contact tracing ends.

Nicola Sturgeon has faced criticism for not easing Scotland's Covid restrictions earlier.
Nicola Sturgeon has faced criticism for not easing Scotland's Covid restrictions earlier.

Prof Bauld, of the University of Edinburgh, welcomed the “positive step” but warned the pandemic was not yet over.

And she said measures may need to be reassessed if a new Covid-19 variant “really challenged” the progress made.

Linda Bauld says positive steps have been made in dealing with the virus in Scotland.
Linda Bauld says positive steps have been made in dealing with the virus in Scotland.

She told the BBC: “Essentially we are moving to a stage now where we are less worried about infection and what we’re focusing on is trying to find people who have the virus, who need support or are supporting those who are most vulnerable.

“It means that self-isolation for many people will not be required or expected in the way it was before unless they feel really unwell, for example, they have a high fever.”

She added: “We’re kind of moving to a stage where we’re treating this a bit like other viruses which I know not everyone agrees with.

“[It’s] recognising that we’re at a different stage in the pandemic.”

The NHS will also be taken off an emergency footing from the end of Saturday.

However, Scots who work in health or social care sectors, those visiting hospitals and care homes, will still be able to access coronavirus testing.

And the public health expert said the relationship between infection and severe disease has been “decoupled”.

“If you just look at the ICU figures, even with the Omicron wave, we’ve really had 20 to 25 people in ICU – it’s not risen,” she said. “The severe illness is not there to the same extent and also hospital numbers have gone down.”

She hailed the success of Scotland’s vaccination programme which had “some of the highest uptake in the world” and said clinicians are now able to treat and support those with severe Covid illness which will allow people “to get on with day-to-day life”.