Sturgeon urged to ‘push the pause button’ as Scottish NHS hospitals hit code black

Nicola Sturgeon 'needs to press pause button' says Nelson

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Code black status has been declared at two more hospitals in Scotland due to Covid-19 pressures, with non-urgent elective operations postponed. NHS Grampian said both Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin, Moray have been at code black status in recent days. Editor of The Spectator Fraser Nelson has urged Nicola Sturgeon to halt any plans to ease lockdown restrictions in the north.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Mr Nelson said: “This is the big difference between the Scottish and English approach.

“Boris Johnson is looking at hospitalisations and brace yourself for Sajid Javid saying the cases could rise to 100,000 but don’t worry because they don’t translate into hospitalisations or deaths in the way they once did.

“Nicola Sturgeon’s is not quite coming out with that clarity of message and we’re at a stage in Scotland where it got way more cases of it in the second wave but only a quarter of the hospitalisations.

“Yet we’re still at the stage in Scotland that is pushing a few hospitals into the code black area then I guess Nicola Sturgeon has to press the pause button.

“She is facing NHS pressures but she isn’t saying like, Boris Johnson and Sajid Javid is saying that we need not worry as cases as much.”

Ms Sturgeon has outlined fears that England’s coronavirus Freedom Day could spark some confusion among Scots over which restrictions remain north of the border.

The First Minister spoke about her concern that the “domination of coverage” from England – where all restrictions are being lifted from July 19 – could “confuse the message here”.

While Ms Sturgeon still hopes to go ahead with a planned easing on the same date, she stressed that Scotland would still have some restrictions in place at that point.

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The wearing of face coverings, for example, will continue to be required in Scotland “even if it is not in England”, she said.

The First Minister was pressed on the issue during a coronavirus briefing, where she was asked if she fears the removal of all restrictions south of the border could make Scots less cautious.

“That has always been a worry,” she said.

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“If we are going at different paces and doing things in slightly different order … the sheer domination of the coverage from England into Scotland in a media sense can confuse the messaging here and perhaps give people the idea that things are being advised that are not being advised.”

Ms Sturgeon revealed that, earlier in the pandemic, when the Scottish Government was staging daily briefings “one of the reasons was just to try to make sure there was a constant, regular source of the advice that was extant in Scotland at any particular point”.

She said this was also why she was “taking the time today to just remind people” that the change planned in Scotland for July 19 “is not the same change as is being made in England on July 19, which is a complete lifting of everything”.

And she added: “Obviously, you will hear a lot from us to just remind people that, from July 19, we will still be required to wear facing coverings in Scotland, even if it’s not in England.”

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