Weekly Poll – COVID-19 in Scotland
Each week Disability Equality Scotland send out a poll question to our members on a topical issue. For the week beginning 17 October 2022 we asked a question about COVID-19 in Scotland.
Please note that this is a snapshot of the views of our membership and does not reflect a policy stance of Disability Equality Scotland. If you plan to reference the findings featured in this report, please contact us in advance so that we are aware of this.
Question. Do you think there are enough protective measures in place to deal with a new wave of COVID-19 that is expected this winter?
- Yes – 30% (23 respondents)
- No – 70% (52 respondents)
We provide verbatim comments where appropriate to illustrate strength of feeling or personal experience.
COVID-19 in Scotland
A new wave of COVID-19 is expected this winter and the Scottish Government have urged people who are eligible for vaccination to take up the offer. Figures from Public Health Scotland for the week ending 9 October show an average 838 patients in hospital with COVID-19, a 12.6% increase from the previous week ending 2 October 2022 (744). Separate data published by the Office for National Statistics found that COVID-19 infections in Scotland had fallen slightly, where 1 in 50 people had the virus, which was down from 1 in 45 two weeks earlier.
Impact on Disabled People
The Highest Risk List, which was initially the Shielding List, ended on 31 May 2022. For most people who are at high risk of getting seriously ill from COVID-19 vaccination has significantly reduced this risk. People who are immunosuppressed might not develop the same level of immunity from the vaccination as others. This means that some people who are immunosuppressed will still be at higher risk from COVID-19. The Scottish Government published advice for people previously considered at highest risk from COVID-19 online at www.gov.scot/publications/covid-highest-risk.
Respondents who are at highest risk reflected on the ongoing impact of COVID-19 on their health and wellbeing. For some disabled people, this has led to increased anxiety and social isolation.
“I am an immunosuppressed person. Unless there is a miracle cure, I have to shield for 6 months every year. I am almost completely isolated and fear all of the time if I will be able to pay for deliveries of food. If my benefits are reduced, I’ll starve quite literally. I am (as are others) at the mercy of those who decide on disability benefits. I simply cannot go out or go on transport or mix with people because of threat of serious illnesses. There was no apology, nor compensation. There also seems to be no support for people who still have to shield, and many do because of COVID or similar viral infections.”
“There is no consideration for those with complications. I have 1 lung, complex asthma and I am already on max at-home medication and nebuliser. I’ve now been bedbound for 2.5 years and indoors for 3. I have no ability to walk into another room or open a window. I cannot be without the crumbs of care that I have. My heart is breaking. I worry for my family. I’m 37. This country is very very broken and throwing away disabled people.”
“I am truly scared of catching COVID again, and I am now back to staying in as much as possible because people have given up being courteous to others.”
Impact on NHS
Concerns were shared about how increasing COVID-19 cases may create extra pressure on the NHS because of rising hospital admissions and staff absences.
“The NHS is still under immense pressure from previous lockdowns and COVID-19 waves, it has never recovered, and with so many staff leaving and posts remaining unfilled, the NHS is in a very poor state and overwhelmingly unprepared.”
“I think the NHS is still trying to recover from the main COVID pandemic, now there are further cuts afoot, risk of strikes, some companies who have been making PPE throughout the pandemic are closing.”
“Our health service cannot cope with anything at the moment let alone another COVID outbreak.”
“I think the NHS is going to be under a lot of pressure this winter unless people start taking necessary precautions.”
Attitudes and Behaviours
Respondents commented on the attitudes and behaviours of the general public. There was a perception that people are not following government guidelines and taking the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“It does not matter how much protective measures are in place (not enough) when people ignore it all the time unless it is made mandatory and rigorously enforced it is useless.”
“Everything is by “advisement” and to be blunt, the general public either do not have the information, the education or the care to know what they should or should not be doing in this situation. The majority of them do not know a disabled or chronically ill person closely, and some that do simply do not care enough about their safety to even wear a mask in medical buildings now.”
“There are enough protective measures. However, it is up to each individual person to wear masks, socially distance, have the booster etc. And in my experience, there are many people who are not responsible enough and consider COVID to be over and so don’t need to take precautions.”
“Unfortunately, people are not taking this seriously enough. I and my fellow residents have all had our flu and COVID top up jabs in the last few weeks. However, we cannot control who comes into the building and we are deeply concerned at the attitude to COVID by younger visitors. There is no mask wearing. It is a serious threat. We are all doing our best to make sure we are safe, but others seem to lack understanding of the threat to us.”
“Unfortunately, we are facing problems this winter however I think that some of this is due to the public not taking up the offer of being vaccinated.”
Respondents commented on the clarity and effectiveness of current government guidance in dealing with a new wave of COVID-19. Some respondents believed that certain measures, such as mask wearing should once again become mandatory in public spaces.
“The Scottish Government’s advice is nowhere near good enough – e.g., prioritising handwashing and covering mouth /nose when coughing or sneezing won’t stop covid transmission, because it is airborne (not droplet borne). As a minimum, the government should be promoting mask wearing as standard in public spaces, better ventilation in schools, offices, public transport and other public spaces, and providing free COVID testing.”
“There are no measures in place at all. We need mandatory masking on public transit and airplanes and especially in GP surgeries and hospitals. We need masking, and better ventilation and air filtration in schools and public buildings. Businesses should be encouraged to improve ventilation. We need to bring back free testing and reporting. People need to be educated that COVID is airborne, like smoke, as most folk still think hand washing alone will keep them safe.”
“With no testing, people who have COVID are out and about spreading it around. People who are testing are going up to 12 days before they are clear, so 5 days are not enough to stay in.”
“LFTs have been removed from care providers at the same time as mandatory masks. Nobody wants the expense, so they’ve just whipped both away immediately. There’s been enough death in this country. Must they risk more lives than have already been lost?”
Some respondents believed that government COVID guidelines are not clear or are not promoted widely enough with the public. In addition, it was noted that this information does not appear to be available in accessible formats such as audio, BSL and Easy Read.
“I do not think the Scottish government have done enough to inform people about COVID safety measures this winter or about vaccines, e.g., who is eligible, what group a person is in. I particularly felt that it was difficult trying to find out on the Scottish government or NHS Scotland websites whether I should book my own vaccine appointment or wait to receive a letter. I felt both websites were not at all clear about it.”
“There is no media info put out to the general population that I have seen; with the result most people are treating exposure to COVID as not a risk or nothing more serious than the common cold. With the quote “if it was that serious, we would be told about it” or “we don’t have to worry about Covid as it has gone away.”
“I’m going to start sounding like a broken record here. Where is the accessible information regarding this? I cannot find anything in BSL or Easy Read. Given that people with learning disabilities, Down’s syndrome etc. are at higher risk then why isn’t accessible information being provided for them. At the start of COVID accessible information was provided – even though risks remain access to information that is understandable is not being provided. Can you ask why this is the case? Are disabled people not worth anything anymore? It’s a worrying trend that disabled people are once again being ignored when discussing health issues.”
The majority of respondents (70%) do not think there are enough protective measures in place to deal with a new wave of COVID-19 that is expected this winter. Disabled people who are at highest risk reflected on the impact of COVID-19 on their health and wellbeing. Respondents noted the potential impact of a new wave on the NHS as a result of increased hospital admissions and staff shortages. Disabled people were concerned by the perceived lack of action from the general public in taking necessary precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Some respondents believed that the government must introduce further protective measures and for these to be promoted widely in a range of accessible formats.