AN MSP has been rebuked after claiming new lockdown measures show Holyrood has been gripped by “collective madness” during the pandemic.

Michelle Ballantyne argued that strict new rules to combat soaring Covid-19 cases were “irreconcilable” with the impact of the virus, asserting that the death rate is not “very high”.

The South of Scotland representative, who resigned from the Tories in November over differences with Douglas Ross, alleged that young people were being “sacrificed” to protect the elderly.

Her comments have been described as “insensitive and irresponsible”.

Nicola Sturgeon announced in Parliament yesterday that mainland Scotland will be placed back into strict lockdown, with a new legal stay at home order introduced to combat a highly transmissible Covid-19 variant.

The First Minister, who said schools are to remain closed until February, warned that without new measures, hospitals could run out of capacity to deal with coronavirus patients within the month.

READ MORE: 'Devastating' Covid restrictions dawn as Scotland enters lockdown 2.0

The tough new rules were supported by opposition MSPs, but Ballantyne voiced objections on social media.

Responding to a Facebook user, she wrote: “I share your feelings, the damage being done is irreconcilable with the impact of the virus.

“Parliament handed a mandate to the Government to make decisions without consultation (I was guilty back then of following the whip, I have since resigned to vote as I believe fit).

“There doesn’t appear to be any balanced analysis. The average age of death with Covid (I’m told that just having a positive test is enough to make someone a Covid death) is around 83 and yet we are willing to sacrifice the lives of our young people, it makes no sense.

“I wish I could offer you more hope but there seems to be a collective madness in politics at the moment that sets anything other than Covid deaths aside as sad but necessary collateral damage.”

Ballantyne expressed similar sentiments on Twitter.

She refused to back down when asked about her comments by the Daily Record.

“Just talking to my local minister, he has conducted more funerals for suicides recently than he has for Covid,” the MSP claimed. Suicide statistics for 2020 are not due to be published until next year. Figures for previous years can be viewed here.

READ MORE: Another 11 people die in Scotland after contracting Covid as cases soar

The MSP continued: “My understanding is that if you tested positive in the last 28 days of Covid, and then you die within that 28 days, then Covid is recorded as contributing to death. It’s there on the record, if you like. There’s a big difference between dying of Covid and dying with Covid.

“If you look at the death rate from it, or turn it on its head, the survival rate is actually very high. It’s not that the death rate is very high.”

Pressed on whether she was arguing that the Scottish Government has been exaggerating the death rate, she answered: “I suppose the answer to that question is I don’t know. That’s what I think we need to know.

“At the moment, we are very much looking at the today. And what I am saying is there is a tomorrow, there is a next year, there is a five years down the line. I really think we need to have much more of a cost-benefit analysis of the decisions we make.”

The National:

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The Scottish Government currently publishes both daily and weekly death figures. The daily numbers account for people who had tested positive in the previous 28 days. The latest overall total under that measurement is 4633 since the start of the pandemic.

The weekly figures, collated by National Records of Scotland, take into account all deaths where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate. Some 6298 deaths have been registered under that measurement up to 20 December.

Ballantyne was condemned by Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon.

She commented: “Covid-19 is a serious threat to life and health and Michelle Ballantyne’s remarks, which downplay Scotland’s tragic death toll, are insensitive and irresponsible.

“The virus has sadly disrupted our way of life, including education, however, it has also tragically killed thousands of Scots, robbing many children and young people of their loved ones. There is a lot more that can and must be done to support young people but it is dangerous to frame Covid as a risk to older people only.

“The new variant of the virus must be taken seriously by everyone.”

The SNP have been approached for comment.