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MP condemns ‘lack of transparency’ as further impact of Nike conference revealed

The North East of England’s ‘patient zero’ attended the Edinburgh event in February before the infection was passed to a second person in Newcastle.

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More than 70 employees from around the world attended the conference in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

More than 70 employees from around the world attended the conference in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

More than 70 employees from around the world attended the conference in Edinburgh on February 26 and 27 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

Labour’s Ian Murray has condemned a lack of transparency from both the UK and Scottish governments as the further impact of coronavirus cases linked to a Nike conference in Edinburgh came to light.

More than 70 employees from around the world attended the event at the Hilton Carlton Hotel on February 26 and 27.

Investigations found that at least 25 people linked to the event contracted Covid-19, including eight in Scotland, but the incident was not made public until it was revealed in a television documentary earlier this month.

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Ian Murray is Labour’s only MP in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

Ian Murray is Labour’s only MP in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

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Ian Murray is Labour’s only MP in Scotland (Jane Barlow/PA)

The first coronavirus case in Scotland was announced on March 1 and was a Tayside resident unrelated to the conference.

But the Sunday Times says it has been reported locally that the North East of England’s “patient zero” attended the conference in February and the infection was passed to a second person in Newcastle at a child’s birthday party.

The Chronicle newspaper also states that a church in Newcastle closed after a member tested positive for coronavirus, with it being “understood the patient works for Nike in Sunderland and contracted the virus after attending a conference in Edinburgh” – although this was unconfirmed at the time.

And in another report on Sunday, the Scottish Sun said one staff member at the Sunderland base contracted the virus after the Edinburgh conference.

Not only were people in Edinburgh kept in the dark, the decision to keep the information secret means people in North East England were also unawareIan Murray MP

Mr Murray, Labour’s only MP in Scotland, said: “The Scottish Government has fresh questions to answer about its cover-up of the ground-zero coronavirus outbreak.

“Not only were people in Edinburgh kept in the dark, the decision to keep the information secret means people in North East England were also unaware of how the virus could easily spread to their region.

“There are questions too for the UK Government which should have acted when the Scottish Government failed to be transparent.

“The lack of transparency from both governments is harming public confidence at a vital time for the country as we move towards the easing of lockdown measures.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to deny covering up cases linked to the conference (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to deny covering up cases linked to the conference (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been forced to deny covering up cases linked to the conference (Fraser Bremner/Scottish Daily Mail/PA)

Mr Murray has previously accused Nicola Sturgeon of covering up the incident, something the First Minister has been strenuously forced to deny on several occasions.

Elsewhere on Sunday, when asked about Dominic Cummings’s reported journeys between London and Durham, Devi Sridhar, professor of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, told Sky’s Sophy Ridge show that the North East of England “is now one of the hardest hit parts of the country”.

The first case in the area was reported on March 4 by Public Health England, three days after Scotland’s first case.

Microbiologist Professor Hugh Pennington has also called for details of a report into the outbreak to be made public, as researchers would be “working in the dark” without such information.

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