Covid fears at COP26 as more than 100 on duty police officers await PCR test results


Fears of an impending coronavirus outbreak at COP26 are mounting after more than 100 police officers were forced to isolate with suspected Covid.

There were concerns heading into the event about a surge of the virus, with more than 30,000 people from 200 countries pouring into Glasgow to attend. 

There is no evidence to suggest infections have increased in the city yet, but there has been a rise in police officers with Covid-like symptoms.

And Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti tested positive today just a day after having breakfast with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. 

Public health experts warned the event was the perfect breeding ground for new variants, citing the nearly 40,000 Glaswegians have not been fully vaccinated. 

Official figures show the city has the lowest uptake of the vaccine in Scotland. Stats published by Holyrood’s research unit found 11 per cent of those eligible in the city had not been double jabbed by the end of last month.

With an adult population around 344,000, this means around 38,000 have not received two doses of the vaccine.  

More than 100 police officers are in isolation or awaiting Covid PCR test results amid fears of an outbreak at COP26

More than 100 police officers are in isolation or awaiting Covid PCR test results amid fears of an outbreak at COP26

Pictured: Police officers escort an Extinction Rebellion protest outside the COP26 Summit as a banner is seen reading 'how many cops to arrest climate chaos?' on Tuesday night

Pictured: Police officers escort an Extinction Rebellion protest outside the COP26 Summit as a banner is seen reading ‘how many cops to arrest climate chaos?’ on Tuesday night

There is no evidence to suggest infections have increased in Glasgow yet, but health chiefs have warned of an inevitable uptick in cases. Graph shows: Infections in Glasgow

There is no evidence to suggest infections have increased in Glasgow yet, but health chiefs have warned of an inevitable uptick in cases. Graph shows: Infections in Glasgow

Police Scotland cited ‘operational reasons’ for refusing to divulge the number of officers and status of those affected by the outbreak in the force.

However, multiple sources told the Scotsman newspaper that as many as 103 are affected.

Public health experts warn COP26 is increasing Covid outbreak risks  

Public health experts warned COP26 was increasing Covid risks including possible new variants, with nearly 40,000 people in Glasgow not fully vaccinated.

New official figures show Glasgow has the lowest uptake of the vaccine in Scotland.

Stats published by Holyrood’s research unit found 11 per cent of those eligible in the city had not been double jagged by the end of last month.

With an adult population around 344,000, this means around 38,000 have not received two doses of the vaccine.

It comes as 25,000 international delegates descended on the city for COP26, with 100,000 environmental activists due to march from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green for a demonstration on Saturday.

Professor Andrew Watterson, a public health expert at Stirling University warned Glaswegians were most at risk due to the influx of people from elsewhere.

He said: ‘For months, it has been blindly obvious to the average Glasgow citizen that bringing large numbers of people from outside the city into the city, or any other city for that matter, during a pandemic would increase risks.

‘This would include English police and security staff as well demonstrators this weekend.

‘The risks will then be higher when a lower percentage of the population have been double vaccinated or received boosters.

‘So yes, it is a real concern that Glasgow city inhabitants most at risk will have that risk increased by all activities associated with and around the COP26 event from those visiting the city from outside Scotland.’

It has been claimed the officers concerned were given PCR tests and instructed to self-isolate on Monday.

The Scottish Police Federation (SPF) is aware of the situation, but sources within the union insist none of its members were affected.

One SPF source said: ‘These are not our officers or members, but have travelled to Glasgow from elsewhere in the UK to bolster the numbers the chiefs can deploy on any given day throughout the fortnight of COP26.

‘You have to be realistic and see it for what it is. A hundred or so people from a total of just over 10,000 are taking PCR tests or are waiting for test results.

‘It’s a precautionary move. The numbers still add up to take on any scenario that arises during the summit.’

The policing operation at COP26, codenamed Operation Urram, Gaelic for respect, is the largest ever staged in Scotland and one of the biggest in the history of UK policing, with 10,000 officers deployed on summit duties each day.

Of that number, 7,000 have been brought in from outside forces. 

About 45 per cent of the officers have been drawn from the ranks of Police Scotland, with the rest coming from other forces, British Transport Police, the Ministry of Defence and the Civil Nuclear Constabulary.

While Police Scotland would not confirm the number of officers caught up in the Covid scare, well-placed sources maintain that senior commanders are ‘fully confident’ they have the necessary numbers to cope with any situation.

A spokesman for Police Scotland said: ‘We have a Covid management plan in place.

‘However, for operational reasons [we] will not be releasing numbers of those isolating (either awaiting a result, or having had a positive result).’

Mayor Eric Garcetti is currently isolating in his hotel after testing positive today.

Boris Johnson made a brief appearance at the event on Tuesday in the blue zone at COP26 in Glasgow.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her Welsh counterpart Mark Drakeford hosted the event along with Northern Ireland’s First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill.

A message on the official mayor of Los Angeles Twitter account posted on Wednesday afternoon said: ‘Mayor Garcetti tested positive for Covid earlier today.

‘He is feeling good and isolating in his hotel room. He is fully vaccinated.’

Among those in attendance at the breakfast were the prime ministers of Norway, Sweden, Barbados and Vietnam, as well as UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

The presidents of Armenia, Costa Rica and Zambia also took part, as well as Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Glasgow City Council leader Susan Aitken.

Mr Sturgeon met Mr Garcetti ‘briefly’, according to her spokesman, but she has not been identified as a close contact.

Everyone attending the COP26 blue zone must take a lateral flow test each morning and increased hygiene procedures are in place at the venue.

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