Nicola Sturgeon warns of further restrictions as Scotland faces ‘exponential growth’ in coronavirus
“Doing nothing is not an option,” Nicola Sturgeon has said, as she warned of the possibility of further coronavirus restrictions to come as cases of the virus continue to rise in Scotland.
The First Minister said that she wanted “to give the nation advance notice” that some “hard but necessary” decisions may have to be taken in the coming days, with Scotland now facing the risk of “exponential growth” of coronavirus.
There were 203 positive cases of COVID-19 identified from testing yesterday, which is 4.4 per cent of all tests carried out, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in Scotland to 23,776.
Sixty-nine of the 203 cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 30 in Lothian and 29 in Lanarkshire, with the remaining 75 across the other eight mainland health boards.
Sturgeon clarified that because of the backlog in testing, more cases than usual may have been from the previous few days, but that would not affect the analysis of trends as that is based on the day the sample is taken rather than when it was processed.
There was one death from COVID-19 in the past 24 hours, while 61 people are in hospital and five in intensive care.
At the daily coronavirus briefing on Friday, the First Minister noted that she was reporting deaths again, albeit in small numbers, on a regular basis and this was a sign that COVID was accelerating.
She said she wanted to “take stock” of where the country stands now in the pandemic.
“The bottom line here is that this virus is on the rise again,” she said.
“Our case numbers are not yet rising as fast as they were back in March, but they are rising again, and they are rising quite rapidly.
“The percentage of tests coming back positive is also not anywhere near as high as it was back in March, but again, it is rising and, as I reported yesterday, we believe the R number [the rate at which the virus is being passed on] is now above one.”
Sturgeon warned that Scotland might now be at an earlier stage of the path that has been taken in recent weeks by France, as France stood approximately where we are four weeks’ ago and now has 10,000 new cases per day, hundreds in intensive care and rising deaths.
She said her task was to make sure that Scotland doesn’t end up where France is now.
“We are facing the risk again of exponential growth in COVID and we all know from earlier this year what that looks like and why it is so important to seek to avoid it,” she said.
She urged everyone to abide by the rules “strictly and vigorously”, to work from home if possible and avoid non-essential travel.
However, she added that it “may well be that if we are to interrupt and break this growth, we will have to do more over the next few weeks, and this weekend will be critical in the assessment of how best to do that”.
The First Minister said she had asked Boris Johnson to convene a COBRA meeting over the weekend.
She continued: “So today I want to give the nation advance notice that the coming days are likely to see some hard but necessary decisions.
“If we want to avoid another full-scale lockdown, doing nothing certainly is not an option.”
At the same briefing national clinical director Jason Leitch said the situation in Scotland was “at least amber” and warned that “household mixing is the principle risk.”
Sturgeon also announced that the UK-wide COVID Infection Survey is being rolled out to Scotland and that letters about taking part in the survey will be sent out from today.
Up to 15,000 randomly selected households will be tested every fortnight to track spread of the virus through the population.
The survey is being carried out by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) and Oxford University following a pilot in England and Wales.
Holyrood provides comprehensive coverage of Scottish politics, offering award-winning reporting and analysis: Subscribe