FAMILIES with relatives in care homes have called for visiting restrictions to be relaxed if residents have received their first dose of the Covid vaccine.

Labour’s Monica Lennon asked the First Minister after today's parliamentary briefing if she could give a timescale for when visits may be able to resume  and what conditions would need to be in place before indoor visits might be possible.

Catherine Russell of the campaign group Care Home Relatives Scotland had questioned why visits remained prohibited "if one dose is enough to be safe".

The efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine after the first jag is said to be around 52 percent after 12 days.

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Nicola Sturgeon said restrictions would not be in place “any longer than is necessary but added: “We have a virus that is spreading perhaps 70% faster than the previous strain and therefore we would be negligent if we did not give very stringent advice around the need to restrict indoor care home visiting in particular.

“We are also though and have been for some time rolling out testing and care home residents and staff are in the top priority group for vaccinations so we hope that not too far into this year we will get into a much better position.”

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In response, Ms Russell said: "We are in total despair at the First Minister’s reply to Monica’s Lennon.

"I just cannot imagine what kind of civilised country would think this is acceptable.

"The French, Germans, Belgiums, Dutch and Irish Republic Care homes all opened to indoor visiting from last May as soon as supplies of PPE allowed and Infection Prevention and Control methods could be stepped up.

"The Government has staged photocalls to show people getting indoor visits with touch using lateral flow tests - but only a handful of people on our group have benefited from this - the vast majority of us are locked out now as we always have been.

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"The Government  will claim essential visits for people who are at end of life are still possible - but that is not our experience on the group.  

"Care Homes virtually never offer essential visits and when people ask for them they are frequently refused.  

"Virtually every old person in a care home meets the Royal College of Nursing's defnitition of end of life."