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Highlands and Islands Labour MSP David Stewart questions health secretary about coronavirus

By Ian Duncan

David Stewart MSP.
David Stewart MSP.

Highlands and Islands MSP David Stewart put a question about the coronavirus direct to SNP health secretary Jeane Freeman at Holyrood.

Labour’s shadow public health minister asked her to outline the Scottish Government’s strategy for the final stage of dealing with the coronavirus, which is the mitigation phase – particularly with reference to intensive care beds which are in short supply relative to European neighbours such as Italy.

Ms Freeman explained the number of intensive care beds was the same proportionally as throughout the UK and admitted that, going by the evidence, those most seriously affected were likely to need such beds.

She went on to say that part of the work now being undertaken was the doubling of intensive care beds and getting the right trained staff and right equipment and the Government would look at what more it can do to maximise capacity.

Ms Freeman said: “All of us need to understand that the situation is a serious one, that while many people will be mildly affected, for some this will be a serious infection and for many it will potentially cause their death.”

Afterwards Mr Stewart said he hoped two people affected with the virus on Shetland made a full recovery and sent them and their families his best wishes.

He said: “With two cases of coronavirus confirmed on Shetland, we can’t become blasé about our position in the Highlands and Islands and need to heed the advice from the medical experts as this situation develops.

“However, we have a smaller pool of resources, both medically and in the number of hospitals and beds available in our region, so I will be monitoring how this develops and how we are able to cope.”

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