VISITORS to Scotland from England could be asked to quarantine to help protect the Scottish public health and economy, according to a pandemic expert.

During an appearance on BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, Professor Devi Sridhar, chair of global public health at Edinburgh University, was asked if there would still presumably be a risk of infections if the border remains open – even if the very low level of cases in Scotland continues.

Prof Sridhar replied: “Definitely. I think if Scotland was an island like New Zealand and we could just lock ourselves away and have in place checks at the borders on airport arrivals and imports, that would make it really straightforward at this point because looking at our current situation, our testing numbers, our daily positives or hospitalisations, we’re in quite a good situation going in for the rest of the summer, but obviously, [a closed border] is not the case.

“We have to find the next best solution.

She added: “I don’t think that means giving up though on controlling the virus or trying to have the push towards zero because that’s our best chance of getting back to normality, getting kids back in school full-time and getting those who are shielding and the elderly, out and interacting and society in a safe way.”

A Scottish Government source also said that those measures could be applied to visitors coming from England, but were only likely to apply to people coming from areas where the Covid-19 infection rate is high.

The measure would highlight the difference in strategies between England and Scotland.

READ MORE: Devi Sridhar says Scotland 'not far away' from eliminating virus

Prof Sridhar said Westminster is running a suppression strategy, aiming to balance the economy and death rate, whereas Scotland is aiming to eliminate the virus altogether, which would then allow the economy to open and flourish.

Asked by Gordon Brewer of BBC Scotland if it is realistic to have an elimination strategy in one area of the UK and a suppression strategy in another, Sridhar said England would need to change its view.

She said: “I think we’d like to see [elimination] throughout the UK, all nations, because Ireland and Northern Ireland are also working in a similar way towards elimination.

“It is actually England becoming the outlier and preparing to turn it around and go towards elimination. We probably won’t see that before July 15.”

Explaining the differences between Scotland and England’s approaches, Sridhar said: “I think England’s strategy is to re-open as quickly as possible to get the economy going.

“But the problem is that you still have a substantial number of cases, the latest estimates are 3000 to 4000 from the Office of National Statistics survey a few weeks back, and actually given the opening up and the behaviour since then it’s probably even higher.

“It seems like in England, they’re going to continue opening up until they feel that NHS capacity might be breached. And then possibly might look at local lockdowns or measures such as that.”

Sridhar said that Scotland could possibly see the coronavirus pandemic end here by the end of the summer, but it will require close checks on people coming here, which may not be ideal for the Scots tourism industry.

“Elimination here is being used as a push towards zero Covid, a zero Covid Scotland, which means there’s no acceptable level of number of cases, and they get driven down to become negligible, so we can get the economy going and society going at that point.

“But we’d have to obviously have good checks in place for imported cases. This is the situation we’re also seeing in countries in East Asia and out in the Pacific, such as New Zealand, where you get rid of community transmission, and you just keep in place checks for any imported cases coming in which might set off chains of infection.”