Scotland Tops Europe’s Covid Hotspots as Delta Infections Surge

Scotland is recording the highest rates of coronavirus cases in Europe a little over a month before the government plans to lift most restrictions on society and the economy.

The regions covering the cities of Dundee and Edinburgh were top of the World Health Organization’s latest heat map, the BBC reported, as the delta variant rips through the country. Scotland last week reported daily infections exceeding 4,000 for the first time since the start of the pandemic.

Despite the rising numbers, Scotland’s government is counting on vaccinations breaking the link between infection and serious illness. So far, the data appears to back up that approach, with hospitalizations rising at a much slower rate than new cases.

The administration in Edinburgh, which is responsible for public health policy, plans to ease restrictions on July 19 in line with the rest of the U.K. before phasing out just about all of them on Aug. 9. The goal is to fully vaccinate all over 40s before then, while the government is also accelerating doses for all adults after opening drop-in clinics.

More than half of Scotland’s 5.5 million people have now received both jabs, though the government has expressed concern that the rate of vaccination has started to slow with younger generations not getting their shots.

Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, told the BBC that fans gathering to watch the country’s three matches in the Euros soccer championship had contributed to the jump in infections. He also said Scotland lacked the “natural immunity” seen in some other parts of the U.K. after relatively fewer cases earlier in the pandemic.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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