Nicola Sturgeon slams 'interpretation' of her vaccine targets
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Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the Scottish Government aimed to have offered second doses to people aged 40-49 by Monday, despite pledging in Holyrood more than a month ago they would have been delivered by that deadline. Opposition parties have attacked the Scottish Government over its pledge to give second doses to the 40-49 age group by Monday when only 75.8 percent of those in that group are fully covered against COVID-19. Ms Sturgeon told MSPs in a coronavirus update to parliament that “by July 26, we expect to have given second doses to all 40 to 49-year-olds”.
Asked about the missed target, Ms Sturgeon said: “I kind of communicate at a level where I assume a certain level of intelligence on the part of people listening to me because I think that’s justified.
“And I assume a certain ability to attach context and common sense to what I am saying.
“Now, I’ll go from there to taking what over the last couple of days has appeared to be an interpretation by opposition politicians and by some journalists that when I said what you’ve just read out there, what I actually meant was that I was giving a guarantee that by a certain date 100 percent of people would not just have been offered the vaccine, but would have had the vaccine.”
She added: “All I would say is if that is genuinely what people – journalists, opposition politicians – thought I meant and that I had committed to that, without compulsory vaccination, I’m genuinely really surprised that there wasn’t a clamour of questions….asking me how I was going to deliver that commitment.”
She continued: “Surely we should all try to have grown-up, sophisticated nuanced discussions, and the most important thing right now is not getting into some kind of ‘dancing on the head of a pin’ debate about what I meant when I used a particular word.”
The SNP leader also said to the journalist who asked the question: “Apologies to you because that rant probably wasn’t something you entirely deserved.”
It comes as falling coronavirus case numbers and numbers of patients in hospital are among factors meaning Ms Sturgeon is “optimistic” on further easing restrictions next month.
The First Minister said cases have more than halved in the past two weeks while the weekly figure of patients in hospital with the virus has fallen to 421 from 577 the previous week.
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However, speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing she continued to warn of the need for caution as she announced seven deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,044 new cases in the past 24 hours.
She said: “We have seen some very positive developments recently and that goes give us, it certainly gives me, grounds for optimism that we will be able to continue our progress out restrictions.
“That said we do still need to be cautious.
“It’s good that cases are lower than they were three weeks ago, that comes as a relief I know to all of us, but they are still nine times higher than they were at the start of May and we know that the Delta variant is significantly more infectious than previous variants.
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“So just as a sensible degree of caution up to now has helped us get case numbers back on a downward path a sensible degree of continued caution in the period ahead will help avoid sending that progress into reverse.”
She said a decision on whether further restrictions can be eased on August 9 as planned will be announced a virtual session of the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, August 3.
Leading up to this, she said, the Government would weigh up the different factors that will inform its decision on how many restrictions can be lifted.
Ms Sturgeon added: “I am confident we will make progress and while are already living with far fewer restrictions than has been the case in previous stages of the pandemic all of us want to see the remaining restrictions eased as soon as possible.
“That’s important to all of us as individuals, it’s very important to businesses and the economy but we will need to do that with appropriate caution and an appropriate degree of care.”
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