Covid-19 Lockdown: Next Steps

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament on 21st May 2020.

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The First Minister:

We do publish the data. I have referred to an additional document that will be published today, which is on how we do the R number. We are putting as much of that information as possible out there, and we will look at what further advice—for example, from the expert advisory group—we can share. However, ultimately, we have to make judgments based on all that advice, and we have to do that in partnership.

The way in which the work on schools has been done—led by the Deputy First Minister—is a template for how we do such work in future. It has been done in a way that will give parents, pupils and teachers confidence, which is particularly important when we are dealing with children. There is lots of commentary and narrative about whether the virus affects children less than it does other people; we do not know for sure whether that is true. There are also worrying reports about Kawasaki syndrome, which seems to affect some children, although we should not yet be overly alarmed about that. We have to be cautious about all this.

To members who say that we should publish more, I ask—this is a genuine invitation—that they look at all the data that we publish, including the further information that we will publish and what the expert advisory group publishes, and then we can work to see whether there is more that we can helpfully put in the public domain.

We are not trying to hide anything, but as this key debate develops right around the UK, we as accountable politicians have to make our decisions based on the best advice. I am keen to publish as much as possible—I genuinely mean that—but members must understand that the data will only ever take us so far, as the decisions still have to be made.