Sturgeon warned COP26 cruise ships housing 5,000 could spark fresh Covid outbreak | Science | News

Workers will be housed in two large vessels during the climate summit that around 25,000 delegates are expected to attend. The vessels will be moored on the River Clyde to provide accommodation for security and production staff amid a shortage of hotel rooms and skyrocketing rates for places to stay in Glasgow. But these ships have previously taken criticism for being “germ factories”.

The comments, made by Scottish Government adviser and public health professor Devi Sridhar, came as she warned holidaymakers that the cruise ships should be avoided.

The COP26 organisers sourced the two vessels from an Estonian operator.

Tallink’s MS Romantika, which has capacity for 2,500 people, has already cemented its place at the King George V dock.

MS Silja Europa, the second ship, will provide 3,123 more beds to workers.

Shuttle buses are scheduled to take the workers who will stay on the and from the summit.

But Dr Rowland Kao, a professor of epidemiology at Edinburgh University, warned: “Cruise ships are likely places with high transmission of Covid because of enclosed spaces, especially if there is poor ventilation where people come into close contact.

“Given how transmissible the delta variant is, even to vaccinated individuals there will be risks, so a lot of testing is going to be important.

Professor Andrew Watterson, an expert in public health at Stirling University, said: “Much more information needs to be provided to reassure the population of Glasgow and the visitors that there will be no increased Covid risk to either group from the use of cruise ships.

“If the cruise ship occupants come from all over the world, and if there are not rigorous requirements on vaccination and testing along with on-board Covid mitigation measures, the cruise ships could prove to be sources of significant virus transmission in the city.

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This comes after COP26 organisers took fire as they were hit with claims of “mismanagement”.

A letter sent in May to ministers accused the organisers of poor decision-making and poor communications, with events being run by inexperienced civil servants and staff.

A source employed by a COP26 sponsor told The Guardian: “They had an extra year to prepare for Cop due to Covid, but it doesn’t feel like this time was used to make better progress. Everything feels very last minute.”

But these are claims that COP26 has denied. 

There were 2,194 new cases of COVID-19 reported in Scotland on Monday October 18.

Scotland currently requires proof of double vaccination for entry into nightclubs and large events and face coverings are mandatory in indoor public spaces.

Tallink said: “All our crew ­members are vaccinated, they were PCR tested before travelling to the UK, they wear face masks and, in some key areas, gloves.

“They will also be taking regular lateral flow testing throughout the whole charter.

“All crew are in single cabins. Plexi-glass partitions are in place at key customer service points, rigorous cleaning and sanitising is taking place on board with sanitising ­stations all around the ship.”

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