Nicola Sturgeon forced to reassure parents over misleading Covid claims
Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon reacts during First Ministers Questions at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain June 3, 2021. Andy Buchanan/REUTERS
Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to reassure parents that the risk to children from Covid 19 is “very low” after her Health Secretary made “scaremongering” claims which were dismissed by doctors.
The First Minister stressed that nobody in the Scottish Government “is trying to alarm people” and that Humza Yousaf “used a word that was not the correct word to use” when he claimed 10 young children had been hospitalised in the last week “because of Covid”.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has accused Ms Sturgeon of “dodging scrutiny” and “making up excuses” in her response to the “alarmist” claims, and confirmed he will be calling the Health Secretary before Holyrood next week for a “full explanation”.
Mr Yousaf used the figure on Wednesday morning to warn parents against taking their children to councils where soft play areas are open, which he said could “lead to the hospitalisation of children”.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney, also Covid Recovery Secretary, then appeared to double down on the comments by saying the government was investigating whether “something in the new variants” made them more dangerous to children and that the number of young people admitted to wards was “on the high side”.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf during a visit to ICU and the infectious diseases unit at Monklands Hospital, in Airdrie, North Lanarkshire. Picture date: Wednesday May 26, 2021. PA Photo. Jeff J Mitchell/PA Wire
However, senior pediatricians intervened on Thursday to reassure parents there was no evidence to back up the claims that children faced a heightened hermes hapi bracelet replica
While children have tested positive for Covid 19 in hospitals, doctors have said it is likely they were admitted for another reason, such as broken bones, and confirmed they are not seeing a rise in hospital cases of children with Covid 19.
Quizzed on the issue at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus press briefing, Ms Sturgeon said Mr Yousaf had not intended to give the public incorrect information.
“What the Health Secretary was trying to say is nothing is without risk, and that applies to children as it does to adults,” she said.
“Humza answered a question about should a parent in Level Two take their kid to soft play in Level One.”It was in the context of that question that he was making the point, with reference to the small number of children in hospital, that it isn the case that there no risk to children in the course of this, and he used a word that was not the correct word to use there.
“Nobody meant to do that. We trying to give people the best assessment of the risks as we possibly can, to allow people as far as possible, within all the rules that are set, to make the best judgements.”
“Today’s Covid briefing should have taken place in the Scottish Parliament,” said Douglas Ross.
“By going on the BBC instead, Nicola Sturgeon dodged scrutiny from opposition parties on Humza Yousaf scaremongering.
“Parents deserve upfront honesty from the SNP Government, not days of spin over child hospitalisations.
“Instead of admitting Humza Yousaf’s comments were misleading and alarmist, the Deputy First Minister and now the First Minister have made up excuses to defend him.”
He added: “The lack of a straightforward apology and correction is unacceptable. We will be seeking to call him before the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday for a full explanation.”
For Nichola Sturgeon, sorry is the hardest wordA comment from Alan Cochrane
It was too much to hope that we’d get two ‘we’re sorry’ statements from the SNP government in successive days, and that’s precisely how it turned out.
Nicola Sturgeon issued an as near as damnit apology on Thursday over last year’s exam shambles and a pledge not to repeat the same mistakes this time round. But she couldn’t quite repeat something similar over her new health minister’s claim that children were being admitted to hospital, suffering from Covid 19.
I can’t be the only observer who reckoned that it was a ‘brave’ decision, as Sir Humphrey would have said, for the First Minister to appoint Humza Yousaf to the health portfolio in her post election cabinet reshuffle. After all, given that we’re still fighting this appalling virus, it’s easily the fourth most important ministerial job, after her own, John Swinney’s as her deputy and Kate Forbes, in charge of finance.
Dressing downBut even allowing for the fact that she didn’t have a team stuffed with talent from which to choose, it was still a bit risky making Mr Yousaf Jeane Freeman’s replacement. He was no great shakes at Justice, displaying an uncalled for determination not to give an inch over his controversial ‘hate crime’ measure and latterly in supporting mob rule when protesters blocked the efforts of two immigration officers in carrying out their legal duty to detain suspected illegal immigrants.
However, no sooner had he got his feet under the table in his new department than he got a proper dressing down from a senior medic over a stupid claim that a number of children had been hospitalised with Covid 19.
It simply wasn’t true, said Dr Steve Turner, a leading figure from the Royal College of Paediatrics, even if John Swinney added insult to injury by appearing to back up the minister’s allegation.
Mr Yousaf eventually rowed back and said he had not intended to cause alarm but surely even someone new in the job would realise that everything and anything that ministers, especially health ministers, say in the present climate have an immediate effect on the public.
At Friday Covid 19 press conference the First Minister tried to play down the effect of her subordinate’s words, insisting that “nobody in the government is trying to alarm anyone” whilst at the same time accepting that he’d used the wrong words.