About this release

This release by Public Health Scotland (PHS) provides preliminary findings on the impact of COP26 on COVID-19 infections in Scotland.  The preliminary data is sourced from an enhanced surveillance system set up to monitor the impact of COP26 on COVID-19 infections in Scotland up from 15 October to 13 November 2021 (the final day of the Conference),

Main points

  • PHS estimates that as of 13 November 2021, approximately 4 in every 1000 people officially affiliated with the COP26 summit tested positive for COVID-19 through routine screening by a lateral flow test device. This compares to a survey of the Scottish population for the week of 6 November 2021 that estimated that around 12 in every 1000 people were infected with COVID-19. People officially associated with COP26 include United Nations Member State parties, UN staff, media, service staff and others with access to test kits supplied by COP26 organisers.
  • Since 15 October 2021, 291 people across Scotland infected with COVID-19 reported attending or supporting a COP26-related event during a potentially infectious period. Events could include the summit itself, as well as workshops, seminars, or protests and marches. These individuals represent less than a half of one percent of all people reported to Scotland’s Test and Protect system for contact tracing purposes between 15 October and 13 November 2021.
  • Although the 7-day incidence rate of infection in Scotland began to increase during the COP26 summit, from 326 cases per 100,000 on 1 November to 385 cases per 100,000 on 13 November, this increase was primarily driven by rising cases among children between 5 and 11 years old. In the most recent week, case rates have begun to rise in the adult population aged 20 to 49 years old also.
  • Throughout the summit, the 7-day incidence rate of diagnosed infection in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde remained the lowest of the mainland Scottish NHS Boards. In the recent 10 days, the incidence rate in Greater Glasgow and Clyde has increased gradually alongside most other mainland Scottish Boards.
  • Whilst early data available to PHS from enhanced and routine COVID-19 surveillance does not indicate a COP26 contribution to the recent increase in infections nationwide, it is important not to draw any final conclusions as of yet, given that the summit has only just finished; any potential impact from the wider COP26 events, including protest marches on 5-6 November 2021 are not yet likely to be fully evident in the data.


Findings in this report use data available to PHS through 13 November 2021, the official closing date of the COP26 Conference. Given the transmission dynamics and natural disease progression of COVID-19, it is inevitable that any conclusions stemming from this report should be interpreted with caution. Unless more urgent communication is required, PHS intends to publish an update to this report late December when a final and fully validated data set is available.

General enquiries

If you have an enquiry relating to this publication, please email PHS.COP26Surveillance@phs.scot .

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If you have a media enquiry relating to this publication, please contact the Communications and Engagement team.

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Older versions of this publication

Versions of this publication released before 16 March 2020 may be found on the Data and Intelligence, Health Protection Scotland or Improving Health websites.

Last updated: 21 March 2024
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