Sturgeon accused of ‘ignoring warnings’ after record winter death toll – ‘damning errors’

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Nicola Sturgeon, 51, faces fresh calls to launch a coronavirus inquiry after Scotland recorded 23,370 deaths in the winter of 2021/21. The National Records of Scotland’s (NRS) data includes 4,330 so-called “additional” deaths and adds COVID-19 was the underlying cause for almost two-out-of-three of these fatalities.

The number of deaths connected to dementia and coronary heart disease also increased over the course of that winter.

Pete Whitehouse, director of statistical services at the NRS, said: “These figures show again the significant impact Covid-19 had on Scotland last winter.

“Compared to the average of the previous five winters, the winter of 2020/21 saw a 10 per cent higher level of mortality, with the majority of additional deaths being due to Covid-19.”

The data was released shortly after the Commons’ Health and Science Select Committees produced a joint report which highlighted the errors made by the UK Government since the coronavirus reached British shores.

But Scottish Labour pointed out how the First Minister’s Government had repeated many of these “damning errors” north of the border.

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Scottish Labour’s Health Spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, said: “Nicola Sturgeon ignored the same warnings as UK Ministers and with the same tragic outcome.”

The Dumbarton MSP added: “At crucial points in the pandemic the UK and Scottish Governments were in lockstep – acting too slowly in response to the danger and failing to warn the public of the risk.

“But while England will benefit from the findings of this robust and detailed report, Scotland has been denied early findings of its own.”

A spokesperson from the Scottish Government said: “While this report is primarily concerned with the actions of the UK Government, we will consider its findings carefully as we continue to respond to the impact of the pandemic in Scotland.

“Since the early stages of our pandemic response we have been committed to a public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic in Scotland, to ensure that lessons are learned for the future.”

According to the Telegraph, the First Minister has confirmed a Scottish COVID-19 inquiry will start later this year.

While England has produced its own report, there is not expected to be a UK-wide pandemic assessment until spring 2022.

The report in England concluded Britain was not prepared for the pandemic, the first lockdown was not imposed soon enough and the capacity of test and trace was insufficient.

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The report also suggested the UK should have enforced stricter border controls when cases started to appear in China, Iran, South Korea and Italy.

But Britain’s vaccine roll-out programme was lauded in the joint report.

“Globally it is one of the most stunning achievements in history,” said MPs.

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