Scottish university outbreaks ‘should have been predicted’

The Scottish government should have been better prepared for coronavirus outbreaks at universities, opposition parties have claimed.

Hundreds of students have tested positive since universities returned earlier this month.

Opposition leaders accused First Minister Nicola Sturgeon of a "basic failure" to anticipate the problem and provide more testing.

Ms Sturgeon insisted the country's testing system was working well.

And she said the rising number of coronavirus cases underlined why tough new restrictions were introduced on Tuesday to "get the virus back under control".

A further 465 positive tests were reported across Scotland on Thursday, representing 7.9% of people newly tested.

The figures are in part driven by outbreaks at a number of universities, where many students in halls of residences in Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen have been told to self-isolate.

A total of 124 Glasgow University students have so far tested positive, with 600 in isolation, while all 500 residents at the Parker House halls in Dundee have been told to quarantine.

Meanwhile St Andrews University asked students to observe a "voluntary lockdown" over the weekend, with concerns about the virus spreading among students arriving for the new term.

Ms Sturgeon was repeatedly challenged about the situation during her weekly question session at Holyrood, where she said "some further measures" would be set out later.

She said the number of positive cases at universities was likely to increase, but said this underlined that the test and protect system "is working, and we must continue to have confidence in that".

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said the spread of the virus at universities should have been predicted – and said there had been similar failures to anticipate a spike in demand for testing when schools returned in August.

He said the Scottish government had failed since "day one" of the pandemic to plan ahead, adding: "This failure to test is a failure to contain the virus. This will cost people their health, their hopes and possibly their lives."

Ms Sturgeon replied that rising case numbers proved that students were being tested, adding: "It's really important we say to people that if you need tested, get tested – the capacity is there.

"The worst thing any of us could do right now would be to unfairly and unjustifiably undermine confidence in test and protect – that confidence, right now, is justified."

Scottish Conservative group leader Ruth Davidson said there was a "clear concern" that the virus could spread from university campuses when students return home, asking if the government would consider routine testing – similar to the system employed in care homes.

She said: "There is still time to get on top of these outbreaks before they spread more widely."

Ms Sturgeon said she would consider such a move, but said "routine testing Read More – Source

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