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COVID-19 protocol at COP26

On arrival, every delegate is handed a kit of lateral flow tests or the strip test

CLIMATE-UN/ A climate activist arrives at Glasgow Central Station ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland | Reuters

The biggest public event in the world since the pandemic will begin sometime from now. The Conference of Parties (COP 26) or the Climate Summit has attracted around 30,000 people to the Scottish city of Glasgow from across the world -- people with different vaccination statuses.

The topic of climate change is fraught with inequities, but, the organisers have tried, at least, to ensure that the access to, or lack of, vaccines don't stop delegates from attending the summit.

The UK's existing rules for vaccinations have been waived for the meet, instead of which is an elaborate set of arrangements, including managed quarantine for the unvaccinated.

On arrival, every delegate is handed a kit of lateral flow tests or the strip test for a rapid diagnosis. These made-in-China kits are easy to use. Once the strip records the result, the user has to scan it through the NHS website, which promptly sends them an email with the result.

Without producing this negative test report, no one is admitted inside the Blue Zone of the summit. The test has to be done daily for entry to the venue.

In addition to the daily tests, delegates have to do the two other mandatory RT PCR tests on days 2 and 8 of the visit. "We believe this will strike a balance between allowing critical climate talks to continue with representation from around the globe while continuing to have measures in place to protect public health," said Alex Ellis, British High Commissioner to India.

The UK eased its pandemic restrictions on public places in July. According to the rules, masks are no longer required in the open air, but mandatory in an enclosed public space.

Cases have however been rising with around 40,000-50,000 new cases daily. There is talk that the country may have to impose fresh restrictions in winter.

Meanwhile, Glasgow has attracted several protesters who've travelled from different parts of the country, some have reached all the way from Wales and Cornwall. These people are not being monitored for their health status.

On the other hand, delegates from several countries have given the summit a miss because of travel restrictions.

The venue for the event, the Scottish Events Centre, was converted into a 1000 bed COVID-19 facility last year at the cost of GBP 56 million. The climate summit had to be postponed by a year due to the pandemic.

The facility, set up as a contingency measure, didn't host a single COVID-19 patient, however, it was used to treat outpatients for other ailments. The hospital wound up this summer and the venue began readying itself for the climate change meet.

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