Health

Covid Scotland: COP26 did not cause increase of cases report finds


The COP26 climate summit did not contribute to an increase of Covid cases in Scotland, a report has found.

The report from Public Health Scotland (PHS) which was released today also found no evidence of any connection between the latest Omicron variant and the two week long event. 

It found that between October 31 and November 13, around two in every 1,000 people who were officially affiliated with COP26 tested positive through lateral flow or PCR testing. 

This compared to between 11 and 12 in every 1,000 people in the general population.

During the summit, fears were raised about a surge in cases as “really concerning” queues were seen outside the SEC in Glasgow.

At the time when asked about the queues, public health expert Professor Devi Sridhar said:  “It is really concerning, this week I have been quite anxious seeing all that and knowing how fragile the situation has been.

“We’ve controlled the situation for quite a long time. Can we control it even after this big gathering, that’s the question.

“Will it lead to a spike, will it lead to a wave, will actually the mitigation measures have been enough?

“I know they thought a lot about making sure people were fully vaccinated, people were testing, it’s a really tricky one because obviously this is the worst timing ever during a pandemic but at the same time I listened to those people who work in climate and they are saying now is the time, if not now we have an existential threat to humanity.”

Scottish Government advisor Professor Linda Bauld also said holding a mass event while the virus is circulating was “risky”.

HeraldScotland:

Each person attending COP26 had to show proof of a negative coronavirus test and people were also asked to provide information about their vaccination status as part of the accreditation process.

More than 100 police officers also had to be taken off duty during the climate summit amid a Covid outbreak scare.

READ MORE: Glasgow has lowest virus rate in Scotland despite COP26 spike fears

Since October 15, there have been 353 Covid cases across Scotland of people who reported attending or supporting a COP26-related event, which could include the summit itself, as well as workshops, seminars, protests or marches.

While the seven-day incidence rate of infection in Scotland began to increase during the COP26 summit, from 330 cases per 100,000 on November 1 to 389 cases per 100,000 on November 13, this increase was primarily driven by rising cases among children between 5 and 11 years old. 

In the final week of COP26, case rates rose in the adult population aged 20-to-49-years-old also, but stabilised and started to decline in the two weeks after COP26 alongside the rates amongst the younger age groups.

Throughout the summit, the seven-day incidence rate of diagnosed infection in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde remained the lowest of the mainland Scottish NHS Boards.

The report stated: “Data available to PHS from enhanced and routine COVID-19 surveillance does not indicate a direct COP26 contribution to the increase in Covid-19 infections nationwide during the summit and there is no evidence of any connection between Omicron cases and COP26. With infections falling in the two weeks following the end of the summit, it is likely that COP26 has had little impact on Covid-19 epidemiology in Scotland.”

Dr Nick Phin, Director of Public Health Science and Medical Director, PHS said: “Today’s report reinforces preliminary findings that COP26 concluded successfully without any significant public health risks being identified. Additionally, investigations using available data show no evidence of any connection between Omicron cases and participation in COP26.

“These findings will be important in informing the surveillance response for any future large scale events where Covid-19 remains a threat to health.

“On behalf of PHS, I extend our thanks and gratitude to all those involved in the tremendous effort that has allowed for the safe and successful delivery of this event during the pandemic.”





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