SNP threatens PHE following COVID spike in Lanarkshire – 'Call centres should be closed'

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the SNP deputy chief claimed coronavirus guidance in Scotland remains that call centres should not yet be reopened, after a North Lanarkshire call centre saw a cluster of COVID-19 cases. Six cases were reported on Sunday within the Sitel call centre at Eurocentral business park near Bellshill, which is currently working on test and trace cases for NHS England. Mr Swinney said his Government will “get to the bottom” of what happened as he failed to rule out Public Health England could have acted against the law. 

He said: “Our guidance is that call centres should not be reopened at this stage.

“So we’re looking very closely at the issues in connection with that instance.”

Asked whether he believes the company had “broken the law”, he replied: “We’re looking very closely at the circumstances.

“There are obviously services being undertaken there for Public Health England and there are essential workers that may be carrying out those tasks.

“So we’re looking very carefully at those points but fundamentally the most important issues are for us to make sure that we get across all of the contacts that have been made here.

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“That we contact-trace every individual that has tested positive and we’ve put in place arrangements for all members of staff at the facility to be tested to confirm whether they have coronavirus or not.”

Asked if PHE should have not been employing people in call centres in Scotland, he replied: “We need to get to the bottom of some of those arrangements because our guidance is clear.

“Call centres should not be open.

“Now, there may be exemptions there because of the critical work that is being undertaken but we’ll have to look at that very closely.”

Measures have been brought in by the region’s health board to try to suppress the outbreak.

An NHS Test and Trace spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a local outbreak of COVID-19 at the Sitel site in Motherwell.

“This is being managed by Sitel and colleagues in NHS Lanarkshire, who are following appropriate test and protect action in line with Scottish Government advice.

“We take the safety and wellbeing of our staff very seriously. Everyone at the site is currently working from home while a deep clean takes place, and will be offered a test within the next 24 hours.”

NHS Test and Trace is a service operated by the NHS in England to track and help prevent the spread of COVID-19 south of the border.


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