There will “almost certainly” be another wave of coronavirus and protecting NHS elective care during it will be a priority, Humza Yousaf has said.
The Health Secretary said the health service is doing “a lot of planning” into protecting elective care even under the worst-case scenarios of the virus.
He spoke as he visited Falkirk Community Hospital, where he announced new funding for the Hospital at Home scheme.
He told the PA news agency: “There will almost certainly be another wave of the virus, I don’t think that anybody believes BA.2 will be the last sub-lineage of the virus.
“We’re planning in such a way that we will have another wave.
“What we’re crucially trying to do is protect elective care. Protect those planned surgeries that people have been waiting for one or two years, even longer in some cases.”
This will be done by ensuring there is operating theatre space on “cold sites” away from hospitals where there is pressure on A&E, he said.
He continued: “We’re putting a lot of planning into when the next wave does come and hit us, even in the worst-case scenario – how can we protect some of that elective care in particular.”
The mandatory use of face masks in many public areas ended in Scotland last month.
Mr Yousaf said: “There’s no doubt that once we’d removed face coverings from being a legal requirement, there was always going to be a drop in the use of face coverings.
“I think there’s evidence for anybody to see that that has been the case.
“Luckily though, because of the vaccines and the pharmaceutical interventions, we have seen the reduction of case numbers.”
Hospital cases and the prevalence of coronavirus in waste water samples is also falling, he said.
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