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Sturgeon urges public to 'do the right thing' before government has to enforce a lockdown

Sturgeon urges public to 'do the right thing' before government has to enforce a lockdown

The First Minister confirmed that 14 people have now died from COVID-19 in Scotland with a total 499 people testing positive for the disease

Nicola Sturgeon has urged people and businesses to “do the right thing” before the government has to act to enforce social distancing, as the number of deaths from coronavirus in Scotland continues to rise.

The First Minister confirmed that 14 people have now died from COVID-19 in Scotland, while there are 83 new cases of the disease, taking the total to 499. 

But the Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood said that each of these deaths represent “up to a thousand people” who have become infected across the country. 

Sturgeon said that “she cannot rule out” that the Scottish Government may enforce an effective lock-down if people continued to ignore public health advice on social distancing and isolating in cases of symptoms.

She said that workers continuing to go in to workplaces was putting people at “a serious and unnecessary risk” and said that if the nature of the work makes social-distancing impossible, then those workplaces should close, including construction sites and hair salons.

She also said the government’s message to some shops is “if you are not providing essential items like food and medicine then please close now”.

She also said that she expects the UK Government will provide more support to freelance and self-employed workers. 

Sturgeon appeared at a press conference with Calderwood and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman to announce a new community health hub approach to diagnosing and treating suspected cases of coronavirus. 

Freeman said that  people concerned that they may have symptoms should now call 111 instead of a GP. 

The 24/7 non-emergency line will provide advice and referrals to special assessment centres, where people can be seen and potentially sent to hospital for further treatment. 

The assessment centres have been set up in every part of the country, Freeman said.

She said the system has been introduced to allow GPs to focus on dealing with everyday, non-COVID-19 health issues.

Workers who require a sick note were told not to dial 111 and instead to access the NHS Inform website. 

Community pharmacists are also to be given a bigger role, by accessing emergency care summary data and through the extension of the minor ailment service. 

Sturgeon said local authorities had been given the “assurance” that the government will meet all the costs of these additional services.

Asked if Scotland could see a ‘lockdown’ situation similar to European countries, Sturgeon said that the advice the Scottish Government is currently giving is in many regards the same as a ‘lockdown’ scenario.

She said: “I guess the missing bit that we may have to move to … is whether that is being issued in the way of advice or whether there is more enforcement of that.”

She added: “As First Minister, I will not hesitate to do what is necessary here. I’m not ruling anything out."

But she said that the public “do not have to wait” for the government to enforce such measures.

“We’ve all got it within our abilities to do the right thing now,” she said. 

She added: “Of course if people don’t comply with this then, yes, we have to look at how we enforce it more, but let’s all try to do the right thing.

“It’s for the good of all of us – I keep saying we’re all in this together.

“All of our lives are changing right now. But we know why it’s important, so let’s just get on and do the right things.”

Read the most recent article written by Ailean Beaton - Nearly half of adults online exposed to coronavirus misinformation, Ofcom says

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