Jackson Carlaw has accused the Scottish Government of making a series of mistakes in response to the coronavirus pandemic. His criticism of Nicola Sturgeon comes after a report from academics at Glasgow, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities suggests that “a lack of robust measures” to stop travellers from other countries entering Scotland may have “accelerated the course of the outbreak”.
Criticising the Scottish Government, Mr Carlaw said: “The SNP government likes to think it has talked a very good game on this.
“But the fact is, mistakes were made right from the start, and they continue to this day.
“It was the Scottish Government’s responsibility to respond to these challenges, and now this expert paper says that response did not go far enough.
“The initial response from the SNP wasn’t good enough, and nor is the current action we’re seeing now.
“The SNP messed up on travel advice in the same way it’s now messing up on testing and care homes.”
The report by the Scottish universities was published on Tuesday, said there had been “at least 113” introductions of the virus into Scotland during the early stages of the pandemic.
The academics said that travel to Europe was “a clear driver of the Scottish outbreak” and claimed travel restrictions and advice to quarantine on returning from virus hotspots have been issued too late.
Most of the 113 cases were linked to Italy, where cases spiked earlier in the pandemic, while other cases were reported with links to Spain, Austria, Switzerland, France and England.
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During Tuesday’s daily coronavirus press briefing, the First Minister and SCotland’s interim chief medical officer Gregor Smith cautioned against looking too much into the findings.
Mr Smith said while there could have been some cases apparent in Scotland in February, “the reality is they’re likely to have been very few in number”.
The Scottish Government has also responded to the criticism levelled by Scotland’s Tory leader.
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “The Scottish Tories’ attempts to politicise this crisis get more desperate by the day – but even by their standards Jackson Carlaw’s comments are bizarre.
“It is the UK Government and his Tory colleagues who are wholly responsible for controlling border policy – so if his argument is that restrictions on travellers into the UK should have been introduced sooner, he should take it up with Boris Johnson.
“In terms of the guidance on self-isolation for returning travellers, this was agreed on a UK-wide basis – exactly the four-nations approach which Mr Carlaw has repeatedly called for.
“In his desperation to attack the Scottish Government he has only succeeded in undermining his own colleagues, who must be hoping Mr Carlaw keeps silent from now on.”