Coronavirus in Scotland: 'Some time yet' before lockdown can be eased

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Dr Gregor SmithImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Dr Smith was previously deputy to Dr Catherine Calderwood, who quit as chief medical officer at the weekend

It will be "some time yet" before a decision can be taken on when to ease the coronavirus lockdown, Scotland's interim chief medical officer has said.

Dr Gregor Smith, who is a GP, said he was confident the measures that had been put in place were the right ones.

But he said he did not yet have the data that would allow him to pinpoint when the restrictions could be lifted.

Dr Smith has also urged people with any health concerns to still seek medical help despite the pandemic.

He said some parts of the health service were "eerily quiet" and that doctors fear people are trying to ignore illnesses and symptoms that are not related to coronavirus.

Dr Smith had previously been deputy to Dr Catherine Calderwood, who resigned as chief medical officer on Sunday.

Dr Calderwood had been photographed at the weekend flouting the lockdown rules she had been urging the public to follow by visiting her second home in Fife with her family.

She later admitted she had also visited the property with her husband the previous weekend.

Speaking to the BBC's Reporting Scotland, Dr Smith acknowledged that the lockdown had been difficult for everyone to deal with.

He added: "I think everybody has an understanding of exactly why they are making these sacrifices in their everyday lives.

"But we are not quite at the stage yet where we have got the data which would allow us to be able to pinpoint when these measures are likely to be lifted.

"I think it is going to be some time yet before that data gives us the confidence that we have done all that we can to make sure that this pandemic curve that we have become familiar with is suppressed to the level that we would want to see."

Dr Smith also said the guidance he had received from the scientific community made him confident that the approach taken so far was the right one.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Some Scottish medical professionals have said the unsuitable protective equipment they have been given is putting their lives at risk

The Scottish government has been strongly criticised by a group of more than 100 health professionals who have warned that inadequate personal protective equipment was putting the lives of frontline medical staff at risk.

In an open letter to the government, the medics said some staff did not have suitable aprons, masks and eyewear to safely deal with the coronavirus crisis.

Dr Smith said he had read the letter, and was "in the process of making sure that I get to speak to representatives from that group, so I can better understand the nature of the concerns and why they exist."

He added: "I think once we have had that conversation I will be much better placed to be able to understand how to go about addressing those concerns."

Earlier on Wednesday, Dr Smith had told the daily Scottish government briefing on coronavirus that the NHS "remains open" to everyone regardless of their symptoms.

And he warned that sick people should still go to their doctor or to hospital if they are unwell, saying medics were finding the current lack of non-coronavirus cases "disconcerting".

Dr Smith added: "People are perhaps making a choice not to present just now.

"If people are experiencing symptoms like chest pain, bleeding or numerous other symptoms that people sometimes try to put off seeking help; these are things you should be seeking help for.

"I want to get the message across very, very clearly to everybody that we, as clinicians, need to see you when you have these symptoms."