Scotland’s failure to record the number of Covid infections and deaths linked to mass events in the days before lockdown must be investigated, according to politicians and bereaved families.
A Westminster report revealed delaying lockdown and allowing two European football matches and the Cheltenham racing festival to go ahead in England probably caused 17,000 infections, 500 hospitalisations and more than 100 preventable deaths.
However, according to Scottish health authorities, comparable information is not available and the numbers of infections linked to a football game in Glasgow on March 12 last year has never been analysed.
Hilary Storrie, 46, the widow of a Rangers fan who died of Covid days after attending Rangers’ Europa League match with Bayern Leverkusen, believes the absence of information is inexplicable. Almost 50,000 fans were in Ibrox, including more than 1,000 travelling supporters from a region of Germany that was one of the worst hit by the virus at that time.
The match in Glasgow went ahead on the same day First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced mass gatherings of more than 500 people were to be banned the following week and the day before the Scottish football season was suspended.
Hilary and her husband Ryan, from Ayrshire, had travelled from their then-home in Dubai to be at the match on March 12, which was also Ryan’s 40th birthday.
The mother of two said: “We were indoors, at the Cooper suite for hospitality There was no social distancing and no one was wearing masks. There were no temperature checks, no hand-washing stations. Everyone was acting normally.”
Mr Storrie died gasping for breath in a hotel suite in Glasgow on March 31 having persuaded his wife not to call an ambulance as he was worried the NHS was already overwhelmed.
His widow wants the promised Scotland-specific public inquiry to investigate why the match was allowed to go ahead. She said: “I would like to know how many were infected and how many died because that match wasn’t cancelled. It won’t change anything but it would give me some peace of mind.”
A highly critical report of the UK Government’s handling of the pandemic said that at the beginning of March 2020 ministers had no intention of enforcing a strict lockdown like in other countries hit by Covid.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson later performed a U-turn and announced there would be a lockdown on March 23, with the first minister announcing she would order a lockdown north of the border to begin the same day.
However, Sturgeon gave no direction which would have led to Rangers’ match being cancelled.
Scottish Labour Covid recovery spokesperson Jackie Baillie MSP said: “We know that Covid was already circulating in Scotland at the time this game went ahead.
“We need to know why public health officials allowed these events to proceed when the scale of the threat was clear. Where was the evidence to justify doing so?”
Rangers said it was a matter for the Scottish Government.
The Scottish Government said: “We have committed to an inquiry that will cover all aspects of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
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