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Covid: Jason Leitch on ‘long journey’ out of lockdown

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National clinical director Jason Leitch says the Scottish Government will be “cautious” when unlocking the country, with Nicola Sturgeon to release a roadmap out of lockdown on Tuesday.

The first minister announced a phased return of schools is to begin on Monday, before Professor Mark Woolhouse, who sits on the Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group, said Scotland should be “looking at earlier unlocking”.

But Professor Leitch played down any talk of coming out of lockdown in the immediate future, saying: “We’re a little bit worried about complacency.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

“The care homes data is very good. It’s the first signs that the vaccination is doing in the wild what it did in the trials. It’s too early to say that’s going to happen across all ages and all populations so we just have to be cautious,” he added.

“The last thing we want is to open too early and have to go back. That’s why schools first, families next, then the economy”.

A long journey ahead

The country has been put into two full national lockdowns in the last year, as well as various regional lockdowns including a three-week one in Aberdeen in August.

However, with the vaccine reaching almost every care home resident, deaths in homes have fallen by 62%, while people dying at home has fallen by 29%.

Covid vaccine in Scotland: Track the rollout progress with these charts

But Professor Leitch says that despite the progress being made courtesy of the vaccine, prevalence is “still too high”, while the country has a “long journey” before everything can be opened up.

“That (the vaccine) is a real positive to help us getting out, but there were 1,100 cases yesterday in Scotland so prevalence is still too high. The best way for the virus to mutate is high numbers.

Jason Leitch lockdown
Nation clinical director Jason Leitch is urging patience when it comes to lockdown.

“We just aren’t sure about vaccine progress and vaccine transmission reduction. If that goes well, if the care home data is reproduced in the next few weeks across the over 80s in the community, then the over 70s in the community, then, yes, we will be able to advise the first minister that unlocking can happen at this gradual rate.

“That’s where we headed, but it’s a long journey”.

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