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Cop26: Second Tallink ship docks on the Clyde to provide accommodation for workers

© Andrew CawleySilja Europa sailing up the Firth of Clyde
Silja Europa sailing up the Firth of Clyde

A second cruise ship has berthed on the River Clyde in order to provide accommodation for Cop26 conference staff.

The MS Silja Europa arrived from Estonia on Thursday and docked at Greenock.

Cop26 organisers chartered it, and another vessel, the MS Romantika, amid a shortage of hotel rooms and soaring room rates in Glasgow.

Romantika, which has capacity for 2,500 people, has already berthed at King George V dock, next to Braehead Shopping Centre in Renfrew.

© Andrew Cawley
Silja Europa (Pic: Andrew Cawley)

Shuttle buses will take those on board the two vessels to and from the summit, which will attract about 25,000 delegates to Glasgow.

But experts have warned using ships in this way could cause Covid outbreaks.

In last weekend’s Sunday Post, Dr Rowland Kao, a professor of epidemiology at Edinburgh University, said: “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 lots of testing is going to be important.”

Cop26 said last week that the Scottish Government and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were consulted about the cruise ships plan and a rigorous Covid testing system will be in place.

Germ factories? Experts warn Cop26 cruise ships pose risk of infection

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said: “We have been working with event organisers for some time to ensure Cop26 can proceed with as little detriment to the current public health situation.

“As ever, we will need everyone to play their part in reducing any potential impact on our health and care services. This includes regular lateral flow tests, when you have no symptoms, to help combat the spread of Covid, social distancing where possible, and good hand hygiene.

“If anyone has Covid symptoms, they should self-isolate immediately and arrange to take a PCR test.”

© Andrew Cawley
Silja Europa berthing at Greenock (Pic: Andrew Cawley)

The Scottish Government said: “We expect all hotel accommodation providers for Cop26 to follow the relevant Scottish Government guidance for Covid-19 mitigation.”

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.”