SCOTLAND could see a spike in Covid cases following the COP26 climate summit, a leading public health expert has warned.
Scottish Government advisor Professor Linda Bauld said holding a mass event while the virus is circulating is “risky”.
Tens of thousands of delegates and environmental activists are set to descend on Glasgow for the conference, which runs from October 31 to November 12.
Opposition parties have warned the SNP, saying they have “no excuse” for failing to prepare – warning the virus could “wreak havoc” with “implications across the globe.”
Speaking to Times Radio, the Edinburgh University Academic said: “I am worried about a Glaswegian spike, and I’m not worried just about Glasgow…the central belt is interconnected.
“And we’re seeing declines here but we may not be able to hang on to those gains.
“We’re trying to open up and everything’s trying to operate more normally.
“Everybody’s delighted to be able to go to the cinema or a concert or have more people in their homes.
“This is hard won progress thanks to vaccines and other things. But having huge mass events at the moment I think it is risky.”
Delegates attending the summit at the SEC will not have to show proof they are double jagged.
However, the Scottish Government say other mitigations will be in place, including social distancing, masks and testing.
Speaking to the Scottish Sun, opposition parties pointed towards a spike in infections in Cornwall following the G7 summit, and urged the SNP to outline preparations to prevent such a rise.
Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Jackie Baillie said: “We cannot ignore the very real risk of a Covid outbreak that will wreak havoc here in Scotland and have implications across the globe.
“There are steps that could be taken to keep Glasgow safe – but instead the SNP wasted months on a vaccine passport too hopeless to use at COP26.
“There is simply no excuse for failing to prepare for this.”
Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “We saw from the G7 in Cornwall that these major gatherings can bring with them a spike in Covid cases.
“The Scottish Government should set out what proactive measures it is putting in place to enable NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and others to deal with any rise in cases associated with COP26.
“With experts like Professor Bauld already warning of the risk, there is no excuse for the Health Secretary to be taken by surprise. He should move to support our NHS now.”
It comes as new data revealed more than 500 cases of the virus were linked to the TRNSMT music festival in the city.
About 50,000 people descended on Glasgow Green for the three-day event last month.
They had to bring proof of a negative lateral flow test to gain entry.
Public Health Scotland said 551 who tested positive for the virus reported having been at the festival around the time of their illness when speaking to contact tracers.
Some 1,645 people were also found to have been close contacts of those who tested positive.
Public Health Scotland (PHS) said nearly two-thirds of these cases – 1,294 people – reported travelling to London to watch Scotland v England on June 18.
A total of 397 of these were fans at the game at Wembley Stadium.
The PHS report said a “relatively small number” of cases in Scotland were linked to the Euro 2020 fanzone at Glasgow Green at 55 while 38 and 37 respectively were linked to Scotland v Croatia and Scotland v the Czech Republic at Hampden Park in Glasgow.
Responding to the most recent comments, a Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Covid-19 continues to be closely monitored by all relevant agencies and we are working with the UK Government, Public Health Scotland and our partners in Glasgow to achieve our priority of a safe and secure COP26.
“As part of the code of conduct, delegates will be asked to adhere to enhanced COVID measures in the COP26 Blue Zone, such as 1m physical distancing and the wearing of face masks unless seated. All other national and local restrictions will continue to apply outside the Blue Zone.”