Scottish Government COVID-19 Advisory Group minutes: 30 April 2020

A note of the eleventh meeting of the COVID-19 Advisory Group held on Thursday 30 April.

Attendees and apologies

Advisory Group Members

  • Andrew Morris

  • Aziz Sheikh

  • Chris Robertson

  • David Crossman

  • Jill Pell

  • Mark Woolhouse

  • Stephen Reicher

  • Sheila Rowan

  • Tom Evans

  •  Jim McMenamin,

  • Jacqui Reilly

  • Devi Sridhar

  • Nicola Steedman

Invited Attendees

  • Mary Black

Scottish Government

  • Roger Halliday
  • Niamh O’Connor
  • Daniel Kleinberg
  • Richard Foggo


  • [Redacted]

Items and actions


Welcome and apologies

Chair welcomed all attendees. Apologies – [Redacted].

Minutes, action points, Chair update

Chair briefly discussed minutes from last meeting

Action:Secretariat to send round security guidance for members.

SAGE update

Update from SAGE meetings today and Tuesday:

  • all cause mortality will be an increasingly important metric. Scotland is looking at this already
  • brief update on nosocomial work, variability in infection prevention and control was highlighted. Scotland is experiencing similar challenges, including isolation capacity. Noted establishment of Scottish nosocomial group which will link to this group
  • noted that discussion on TTI strategy is still ongoing. SAGE will look at this further and then the group will consider this further in the Scottish context. Work is ongoing to establish contact tracing capacity
  • potential supply issue for flu vaccine was raised. Procurement of additional vaccine already progressed

Action: Secretariat to circulate SAGE paper on environment

Action: [Redacted] to circulate data on nosocomial transmission

Action: Secretariat to put testing on Monday’s agenda as a deep dive issue

Action: [Redacted] to circulate paper on children and transmission

Update on Cabinet Office meeting

Brief update given on the Cabinet Office meeting today, discussion of health, social, economic and international impacts.

Scottish Government status and priorities

Ministers have received the group’s advice well and are keen to continue to receive advice, including on R. The First Minister has requested a deep dive session on R with relevant group members attending and providing information.

Discussion on other issues

Outdoor transmission – further evidence is emerging on this, but still not definitive.

Enforcement and fairness – sitting on a park bench, sunbathing etc.

Action: [Redacted] to write a one pager on relaxing measures around exercise and time spent outside.

Testing in hospitals and care homes

Discussion of paper circulated to the group. Noted the operational issues associated with changing priorities on testing and the impact on patients of potential repeated testing which involves invasive nasal swabbing.

Challenge of the pace of turnaround time for advice and policy making was raised. Time to allow for proper scientific and medical advice considered important. Number and complexity of coordinating group structures was discussed.

Next meeting

Action: Discussion on whole system intelligence and data sharing to be added to agenda for next meeting

Action: Chair to follow up on letter regarding data sharing

Summary notes

The Advisory Group discussed the evidence on outdoor transmission and agreed to carry out further work looking at the potential positive and negative impacts of changing restriction measures relating to exercising and spending time outside.

The group discussed work on the current rate of transmission, including the potential to make a distinction between community rates of transmission and transmission in care homes and hospitals.

A paper on hospital and care home transmission was discussed, including the desirability of using data to identify good infection prevention and control practices. The group also discussed the impact on patients of potential repeated testing, which involves invasive nasal swabbing.

The need for a whole-systems approach to data was discussed, with the group noting that a group has been set up to facilitate improved data sharing. The group agreed the importance of data being made available to NHS and the research community in a timely fashion.

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