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New Scottish Tory leader in row over calls to bring the Army to Aberdeen to aid coronavirus testing, as units are already here

Douglas Ross.
Douglas Ross.

Mobile testing units have been set up at Aberdeen’s P&J Live in response to a growing coronavirus outbreak in the city.

An additional two testing facilities have been set up at the replacement exhibition centre in Bucksburn since the so-called cluster of cases was uncovered at the weekend.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman told The P&J more would be sent to the Granite City “if required”.

The testing units were initially set up by the British Army in April, although it was announced in July that the NHS would be taking over the running of them.

Scotland’s first local lockdown was put in place in Aberdeen on Wednesday, in response to a growing cluster of coronavirus-positive patients traced through more than 20 north-east bars.

Last night a row broke out after the new Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross told the Scottish Government to bring the Army in to help double testing capacity in the city.

He unveiled a five-point plan to help Aberdeen through the localised restrictions and “kick-start” its economy again when safe to do so.

But SNP Aberdeen South MP Stephen Flynn said it “beggars belief” Mr Ross was unaware of the mobile testing units are already in the city.

“I hope that Douglas Ross will agree that such measures are absolutely essential – we can’t afford for the Treasury to cut support schemes whilst we are in the midst of a public health emergency,” he added.

“If Douglas Ross is genuine in his calls about supporting Aberdeen and ensuring a strong recovery, he will back the SNP’s repeated calls for his colleagues in Westminster to extend the furlough scheme into 2021, fix the gaps in support, and devolve key powers so that Scotland can get on with the job of an investment-led recovery.”

Mr Ross’ other “straightforward and practical” suggestions include covering losses of hospitality workers and firms and for the Scottish Government to bankroll an extension of the UK’s Eat Out To Help Out discount scheme when it is deemed safe to reopen again.

Mr Ross said the new restrictions were “a further blow” to a north-east economy badly hit by the pandemic and the downturn in oil and gas.

The Moray MP said: “The decision to reintroduce these measures was from a public health standpoint and it is vital that we work together to make sure Aberdeen is not left behind and local people are fully supported through this extremely difficult time that will have hit many businesses and workers hard.

“We must do all we can to keep jobs and businesses in Aberdeen safe and I urge the Scottish Government to take these proposals forward as soon as possible.”

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