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On 100th day of lockdown Sturgeon says we are 'close to eliminating virus in Scotland'

By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at her briefing today.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at her briefing today.

Scotland has recorded its first confirmed deaths from Covid-19 in four days, while there has also been a spike in the number of hospitalisations of those suspected of having the virus.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon remained upbeat on the overall trends while acknowledging that, though the three new confirmed deaths were anticipated, it was "not what we want to hear".

A large part of her briefing today was given over to an impassioned plea for people “not to drop their guard” as the virus is steadily brought under control amid further outbreaks elsewhere, as in Leicester.

Ms Sturgeon also confirmed, with parliament now in recess, what she would be discussing at the briefings for the rest of the week:

On Wednesday, she will report on the latest weekly statistics from the National Records of Scotland.

On Thursday, she hopes to confirm the changes already indicated for July 3 and July 6 – potentially lifting the travel distance limit for leisure, giving permission for self-catering accommodation to reopen, and then outdoor hospitality may be able to restart. Ms Sturgeon will also discuss the advice on the reduction of two-metre distancing rule.

On Friday there will be a look ahead to the weekend, particularly in view of the changes to travel restrictions that are likely to take effect on that day.

Ms Sturgeon said: “An additional 10 positive cases were confirmed yesterday which takes the total now 18,251.

“A total 885 are now in hospital with either confirmed or suspected Covid-19 and that is actually an increase of 145 since yesterday but I want to stress that the increase is all in suspected cases.

“The number of confirmed cases actually fell by three, so don't be too concerned by what appears to be a big headline increase.

“In the past 24 hours, I'm sorry to say that three deaths were registered of patients having been confirmed through a test as having Covid-19 in Scotland so the total number of deaths in Scotland under that measurement is 2485.

“After four consecutive days without any deaths being registered under that measurement, news of any deaths, though not unexpected, is also not what we want to hear."

She spoke of a "sustained and significant ongoing reduction" and added: “Today marks the 100th day of lockdown. It is worth looking back and remembering where we were.

“Two weeks after the start of lockdown, in early April, hospital admissions for the virus averaged over 200 admissions every single day.

“Two weeks after that Covid-19 deaths in Scotland, going by the wider National Records of Scotland data, averaged more than 90 every single day.

“Today in our current position with hospital admissions averaging just four a day, with consistently low numbers of new cases and with such a sharp reduction in death rates, all of that is massive and it is very welcome progress.

“I believe we now have a genuine chance to come as close as it is possible to get to eliminating this virus in Scotland. We will then have to work to make sure if we can get to that level and keep it at that level.

“So this is a moment of great opportunity but it is also a time of very real danger, not to be negative but to be realistic and to seek to persuade you all that we still have to work very hard to make sure that the progress we have made in recent weeks is not lost or, even worse, reversed.

“Some of the reports we are seeing from elsewhere in the UK and around the world right now underline that point – lockdown restrictions have just been reimposed in Leicester in England as a result of increased transmission.

“We are seeing increases in infection rates in other countries, some American states for example, and in Melbourne in Australia, and lockdown restrictions are being reimposed in these places too.

“My appeal to you today – and I cannot stress this enough – is do not drop your guard at this pivotal moment. Do not become complacent. Do not drift back to life exactly as normal. Don't think that the risk of this virus has gone away, because it hasn't.

“Please make sure you're doing everything you can, every single day, every time you go out, to deny this virus the chance to spread.”

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