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UK News Edinburgh's Nike conference Covid outbreak: Nicola Sturgeon denied it, but now we know there was a cover-up – Ian Murray MP

10:05  14 october  2021
10:05  14 october  2021 Source:   edinburghnews.scotsman.com

Nicola Sturgeon must apologise for 'hiding' early Covid outbreak, says Edinburgh Labour MP Ian Murray

  Nicola Sturgeon must apologise for 'hiding' early Covid outbreak, says Edinburgh Labour MP Ian Murray Labour’s Ian Murray has called on Nicola Sturgeon to apologise for “hiding” an early outbreak of Covid in the Capital after the latest revelations over the Nike conference which was linked to dozens of infections.A single case among the 71 delegates was linked to 38 further infections, but news of the outbreak only emerged weeks later in a TV documentary.

Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that "all appropriate steps were taken" over a coronavirus outbreak at a Nike conference in Edinburgh in February. At least 25 people linked to the event on 26 and 27 February are thought to have contracted the virus. But the public was not told despite health authorities knowing Ms Sturgeon said Health Protection Scotland had established an incident management team at the time, and full contact tracing was done for delegates who had tested positive for the virus. She added: "Had there been more information about that event put into the public domain at that time

Labour MP for Edinburgh South Ian Murray has published a letter probing Nicola Sturgeon about her handling of the Nike conference COVID -19 outbreak . "You said a few weeks ago that you wanted a 'grown- up conversation' with the public on Covid -19. I am therefore compelled to ask why you If this outbreak in February was made public at the time, it is likely there would be a greater emphasis on the need for coronavirus testing. Instead, we now find ourselves not only behind the international standard on testing, but lagging far behind the rest of the UK. “My Labour colleagues in the Scottish Parliament

At the end of February 2020, a delegate with Covid-19 attended a Nike conference in Edinburgh, leading to 38 further infections. But Scotland did not go into lockdown until three weeks later.

  Edinburgh's Nike conference Covid outbreak: Nicola Sturgeon denied it, but now we know there was a cover-up – Ian Murray MP © Nicola Sturgeon claimed talk of a cover-up over the Nike conference Covid outbreak was 'complete and...

Worse, the public did not even find out about the outbreak until May, and only when it was uncovered by a BBC investigation.

The fact this was covered-up by the SNP is shocking in itself, but now we know that, behind-the-scenes, Nicola Sturgeon was being pressed to be honest with the public by the deputy chief medical officer at the time, Gregor Smith.

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Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said the BBC report showed there was " a cover - up following the February outbreak ." Asked about this claim, Ms Sturgeon said all appropriate measures had been taken and the cases had been reported in the Scottish Government' s usual figures. She said 1,912 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 50 from 1,862 on Monday. The most recent figures for deaths in Scotland' s care homes, published by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday May 6, show 43% of all Covid -19 linked registered deaths to date are in

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said the BBC report showed there was “ a cover - up following the February outbreak .” Asked about this claim, Ms Sturgeon said all appropriate measures had been taken and the cases had been reported in the Scottish Government’ s usual figures. She said 1,912 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 50 from 1,862 on Monday. The most recent figures for deaths in Scotland’ s care homes, published by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday May 6, show 43% of all Covid -19 linked registered deaths to date are in

And even then Health Secretary Jeane Freeman wanted full disclosure, according to emails released under freedom of information and published last weekend.

Yet the First Minister held firm and kept the people of Edinburgh in the dark. What a dereliction of duty.

Just imagine if a Westminster government minister had covered up an outbreak like this in England. They would not still be in their job.

But I fear we have become so used to the SNP government hiding the truth from people. Just look at the scandalous cover-up over the water contamination at Glasgow’s new ‘super hospital’.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon must apologise for 'hiding' early Covid outbreak, says Edinburgh Labour MP Ian Murray

There is a dangerous culture of secrecy in Scottish government that stems from the very top.

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Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said the BBC report showed there was “ a cover - up following the February outbreak .” Asked about this claim, Ms Sturgeon said all appropriate measures had been taken and the cases had been reported in the Scottish Government’ s usual figures. She said 1,912 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 50 from 1,862 on Monday. The most recent figures for deaths in Scotland’ s care homes, published by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday May 6, show 43% of all Covid -19 linked registered deaths to date are in

Nicola Sturgeon is under siege over her decision to keep Scotland' s coronavirus 'Ground Zero' secret after close contacts of those infected complained they were kept in the dark. Delegates at a Nike conference in February, linked to 25 cases, booked an Edinburgh walking tour but their guides said they Speaking at her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said an "international contact tracing exercise" had been conducted by experienced public health professionals, who had taken the actions they considered necessary. She argued that patient confidentiality was a "legitimate" reason for keeping the outbreak

Last year, when the Nike outbreak became known, I repeatedly tried to get answers for the people of Edinburgh from the First Minister.

She claimed that talk of a cover-up was "complete and utter nonsense”. She also denied it in parliament.

Well, now that it has been exposed, I look forward to receiving her fulsome apology. But, more importantly, she should be apologising to the residents of our city for her decision.

It should also be remembered that misleading parliament is a breach of the ministerial code.

Why does this scandal matter? Firstly, openness and honesty with the public should be the hallmark of good governance.

But there are also specific reasons why this cover-up was so ill-judged. At the time, people did not realise how quickly Covid could spread and were sceptical of the likelihood of any lockdown.

But as Professor Rowland Kao, chair of epidemiology and data science at Edinburgh University, said last week: “An awareness of a large outbreak in Scotland independent of the first reported case would have made it clear that other outbreaks could be occurring or would be soon with risks of substantial transmission.”

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Ms Sturgeon denied a cover - up , but it was revealed at the weekend that emails show the First Minister’ s then chief of staff Liz Lloyd, then Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and then deputy chief medical officer Gregor Smith “This matter and other mistakes at the beginning of the pandemic must be thoroughly investigated in the Covid public inquiry.” The Scottish Government has said that all appropriate steps were taken to protect public health following the Nike conference , with more than 60 contacts traced in Scotland and about 50 in England, and that genome sequencing has shown the

Take this Nike conference case. Nobody in the UK was cancelling events that early in the pandemic, there were multiple, larger, events in the rUK weeks after the Nike event. There was no travel restrictions. If you have an example of any politician calling for that Nike event to be restricted or cancelled at the time it happened then please tell >but Nicola ’ s doing best she can as FM Johnsons defenders use the same lines for him you know . No one is above criticism, Johnson gets slammed by a lot of people for an the stupid shit he does. If Sturgeon does stuff like him she should get slammed too.

The public should have been given the information to make their own informed choices. And we know that around 2,000 Covid deaths could have been prevented if Scotland had locked down just a fortnight earlier.

So while both FM and PM were delaying lockdown, Nicola Sturgeon privately knew about a major outbreak in Edinburgh, but kept it quiet.

This week, a damning report from a Westminster committee exposed the deadly consequences of the UK government’s failings at the start of the pandemic.

The mistakes made here were identical. Neutered Holyrood committees rarely show the teeth of Westminster’s, but there should now be both a parliamentary probe and a rapid public inquiry into Scotland’s handling of Covid.

No more secrecy or cover-up. The people of Edinburgh deserve nothing less.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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This is interesting!