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Nicola Sturgeon re-asserts leadership over Covid-19 crisis by announcing 'elimination' strategy

Nicola Sturgeon is looking ahead to the all-important Holyrood election in May

Scotland’s First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has attempted to re-assert control over the management of the coronavirus pandemic by adopting an “elimination” strategy against the virus.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament’s Covid-19 committee, Sturgeon was at pains to stress that “the virus won’t play ball” with attempts to keep case numbers at a “medium level”.   

Sturgeon, who is also the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), is expected to set out a more detailed timetable for lifting the lockdown next week.

To that end, the First Minister is widely expected to announce a return to a regional levels system of restriction by the end of next month.

In preparing the grounds for her big announcement next week, Sturgeon told Holyrood’s Covid-19 committee that Scotland was “heading firmly in the right direction right now” before adding the qualifier “we cannot afford to take our foot off the brake too soon”.

The First Minister’s strategy has met the approval of Scotland’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Gregor Smith, who says that while he does not believe coronavirus can be “eradicated”, nevertheless an “elimination strategy” will render future outbreaks “more manageable”.

In re-asserting her leadership role over the pandemic, Sturgeon is trying to claw back the consistent initiative she demonstrated throughout 2020 in the early and mid phases of the outbreak.

More broadly, the SNP leader is keen to repair some of the damage inflicted on the party and the independence movement writ large by her public spat with former leader Alex Salmond, and by extension to concentrate minds on the all-important Holyrood election in May.


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