Scottish Government urges people to stay at home to slow spread of coronavirus
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the increasing spread of coronavirus will "change life as we know it, for all of us”
The Scottish Government has urged everyone to reduce all non-essential social contact and to work from home as much as possible, in the latest escalation of efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that Scotland is now “on the cusp of a rapid acceleration” in the spread of the virus, which looks likely to “change life as we know it for all of us”.
Sturgeon urged people to “stay away” from pubs, cinemas and cafes and said that anyone with a cough or a fever is recommended to self-isolate along with their entire households for 14 days.
This should involve avoiding all contact as far as possible, including going to the shops, she said.
She also said that people with compromised immune systems need to be “shielded” from the virus for up to 12 weeks.
Up to 200,000 people with severe underlying health conditions will be contacted by the Scottish Government in the coming days, she said.
Schools are to remain open for the time being, although Sturgeon admitted that some regions of Scotland could see school closures in the near future.
She said: “We were always likely to get to the point where these measures were going to be introduced”.
The measures announced closely match those made by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who warned that the UK could see a doubling of the number of cases every few days.
Sturgeon said that there will be “an extremely difficult period of months ahead” but that these measures are necessary to protect the NHS and to save lives.
She said: “Life as we know it will change in the coming weeks and months, but our goal is to protect lives.
“We are facing an unprecedented situation that will require major societal change if we are to protect people, especially those most at risk and our NHS.
“The package of measures we are announcing today is based on scientific and clinical advice. While it will cause some disruption and be difficult for us all, it will help us to prepare for the virus and to protect ourselves and each other in the long run.
“We need your help to slow the spread of the infection. That is why we are advising everyone in Scotland to restrict their social contact and to stay at home as much as possible. We are strongly advising those who are over 70 or have an underlying health condition to stay at home.
“People have a vital role to play in helping us contain this infection and I urge everyone in Scotland to follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
“This has not been an easy decision but it is vital if we are to stop the spread of the infection.”
There are currently 171 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Scotland. There has been one death.
The Health Secretary Jeane Freeman is to make a statement to parliament on plans to “build up and scale up” the capacity of the NHS on Tuesday.
The Scottish Parliament closed to the public on Monday afternoon, in order to reduce risk to visitors and staff from Covid-19.
Speaking to the anxiety many people could feel at hearing news of these measures, Sturgeon said: “I don’t mean to be trite or cliched in some way, but we are all in this together.
“If we all follow the advice we are given we can get through this and we will get through this”