Unite Scotland has criticised today’s (23 July) announcement by the Scottish Government on workers suspected of contracting Covid not being required to self-isolate stating that it could lead to a new spike in the pandemic.

As one of the nation’s leading trade unions in the health and social care sector, which has been significantly impacted by the pandemic, Unite has raised serious concerns directly with the Scottish Government over its approach to level zero. The Scottish Government has removed the blanket requirement for close contacts to self-isolate as long as they’re double vaccinated and take a PCR test. This includes removing the requirement for those working in health and social care to self-isolate as had previously been the practice throughout the pandemic.

According to the Scottish Government figures, 1,825 new cases of Covid-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours on Thursday (22 July). Twenty-two new deaths have been reported of someone who tested positive for the virus over the past 28 days. In the week ending 20 July, on average 2,109 NHS staff, or around 1.2% of the NHS workforce, reported absent each day for a range of reasons related to COVID-19.

James O’Connell, Unite industrial officer, said: “There has been a growing number of cases of the delta variant in Scotland and we can’t allow this to spiral out of control. While we understand there is a need and desire to return to normality, we have got to remember that vaccination is not immunisation. Unite’s members particularly in those vulnerable sectors such as health and social care are extremely worried that we could see a new spike in hospital admissions, and it is the staff on the frontline having to deal with this.”

“If you’re identified as a close contact it potentially takes 48 hours minimum for the virus to be detected through a test so there is a potential for staff to be asymptomatic without knowing they are positive for a period of time. Using the hierarchy of control risk should be removed or at least minimised as much as it can be, therefore, in order to remove or minimise the risk of spread you should isolate not gamble using health and social care staff as the test. They look after the most vulnerable people in our society, is it worth it? The Government is putting a lot of emphasis on double vaccination which does not stop contraction of the virus, however, why are they not looking at reducing the time between vaccine?”