NICOLA Sturgeon has suggested that every student in Scotland will be given a coronavirus test before Christmas in an effort to allow them to return home for the festive season.
The comment came in response to a question from Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie at today’s ministerial statement on Covid-19.
Rennie pointed out that all students in England are being tested before Christmas. he asked the First Minister what is stopping her from introducing the same policy in Scotland.
Sturgeon said the only thing stopping her was the need to advise Parliament first. She added: “Of course the Higher Education Minister will make a statement to Parliament tomorrow, setting out plans on that.
“I am sure Willie Rennie will be heartened and encouraged by what he hears in that statement.
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“We have a supply of what are called lateral flow testing devices and we are currently looking at the logistics of exactly how and the clinical prioritisation of using these, but without pre-empting the statement that will be made tomorrow, students will clearly be a priority.”
The BBC reported today on a letter sent by the UK Universities Minister to vice chancellors of higher education institutions suggesting a mass testing policy at the end of the current term.
The tests, which would give results within the hour without a laboratory, aim to stop the 1.2 million students expected to move to another part of the country for Christmas taking the virus with them.
The same lateral flow tests which Sturgeon mentioned will be used south of the Border.
At Holyrood, the First Minister also admonished Rennie for saying that people in Fife would want to know “what we’ve got wrong”, after the area was moved up to Level 3 of coronavirus restrictions.
Sturgeon said that using such language gives the wrong impression, adding: “We’ve got to be careful about language that suggests people are to blame.”
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The First Minister said people often get Covid despite following best practice, saying what is important is the message that “all of us” can help minimise the spread of the virus.
She continued: “We can’t guarantee we won’t get it, and we can’t guarantee we won’t pass it on, but by following the FACTS advice and by abiding by all restrictions we can minimise the chances.”
In saying this, Sturgeon echoed Independent Sage’s Stephen Reicher, who said a “culture of blame” threatens to undermine the UK’s coronavirus response.