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12/10/20 13:41

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's speech 12 October 2020

Statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh

Hello thanks for joining us again today.

I will give you, to start with, the daily statistics.

The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 961.

That is 17.1% of people newly tested, and takes the total number of cases to 39,959.

359 of the cases are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 244 in Lanarkshire, 112 in Lothian and 88 in Ayrshire and Arran. 

The remaining cases are spread across 8 other health board areas. The only health boards without cases today are Orkney and Shetland.

I can also confirm that 487 people are currently in hospital which is an increase of 38 since yesterday.

36 people are in intensive care, which is one more than yesterday and it is important to stress that in light of, in particular, the hospital number that I have just given you there that rising hospital admissions was a factor in our decision to take action and bring in temporary restrictions last week.

Finally, in the past 24 hours, no additional deaths were registered of a patient who first tested positive within the previous 28 days. However I would remind you again, that registration offices are largely closed on Sunday, and so that is not an unexpected figure to be reporting today.

Since the last briefing on Friday though, 6 additional deaths have been registered.

Which means that the total number of deaths, under the measurement we use in these daily figures, is now 2,550. Again that reminds us that this can be a deadly virus for some people.

I want, once again, to send my thoughts to everybody who has lost a loved one and in particular to those who have been bereaved in recent days.

There is three issues I want to cover briefly today and then the Health Secretary is going to say a word or two before she, I and the Chief Medical Officer take questions.

The first thing I want to reflect on is that the weekend just passed, of course, was the first weekend of the new temporary restrictions in place. So I thought it was appropriate simply to start just by saying thank you to individuals and businesses across the country.

The anecdotal evidence, early anecdotal evidence, we have so far from the police would suggest that compliance with the new rules, and with rules generally over the weekend, has been good.

That’s encouraging. These new restrictions are really tough for everybody - and they are tough for businesses particularly in the hospitality sectors nobody is unaware of that. But they are vital for helping to stem the increase in cases, bring it back under control, and of course stem the increase in hospital admissions and illness we have been seeing.

So it is really important that everybody sticks with them because if people don’t stick with them they will not be as effective as they need to be.

So the initial signs from the weekend suggest that that is happening and is the reason that I want to say a very big thank you to everybody across the country.

The second point to update on is that I have just, not long ago,  come from a COBR meeting with the Prime Minister and the leaders of the other devolved governments.

The main topic of discussion this morning was the UK Government’s proposal for a three tier system of alerts for different parts of England. We saw the detail of their proposal this morning but we will look at it very closely.

As I said to parliament last week, we intend to develop our own tiering framework and take that to Parliament after the October recess and of course, that will coincide with the ending of the temporary reset restrictions announced last week.

At a strategic level, we will be looking to align as closely as possible with the other UK nations. I think it is important and it makes sense to try to do that, though, I would stress, that operational decisions about which tiers might apply in which parts of our nations will be for each of us to take at a devolved level.

The publication of a new framework will be a key step to guide us through the next phase of the pandemic. But it’s by no means the only step we will be taking over the next couple of weeks.

What we want to do is ensure that these temporary restrictions don’t simply slow or reverse the increase in cases for a while, although that is clearly important, before things return to normal or as they were before these restrictions afterwards.

What we want to do is use the two weeks to secure a longer term benefit and greater resilience as we know we will be living with this virus for some time yet to come.

So, for example, as I indicated last week, later this week we will introduce regulations to extend the mandatory use of face coverings in indoor communal settings, for example, staff canteens and corridors in workplaces.

We are also going to be taking action to strengthen compliance with the different strands of the FACTS advice. That will focus particularly on self-isolation because that is so essential to reducing and preventing transmission, but it also an area where we know, for understandable reasons, that compliance is not yet as high as we need it to be.

We are also talking to different sectors of the economy, including hospitality and retail, to help them ensure that they can operate even more safely in future. For example, we have already asked shops to return to two metre physical distancing, and to reintroduce other measures, such as one way systems, that they had place earlier on in the pandemic.

And finally, as I said last week in parliament, we are reviewing, again, our testing strategy. As we continue to expand our testing capacity, we are looking at the basis on which we would test more people including groups of people who do not have symptoms but who may, if the virus is not detected help to generate, or risk, community transmission, or transmission where people are vulnerable.

So we will be working hard over the next two weeks, to further improve how we control the pandemic, while living as freely as possible for individuals and businesses, and we will be seeking to ensure that as we exit the reset restrictions two weeks from now, we do that on a more resilient footing.

But as ever, and this will be the point I close on, government measures can’t work on their own. They are really important but all we all need to play our part in getting and keeping the virus under control.

That gets harder as the months go on for all of us. I think we are all acutely aware of that right now. And I’m sure it has seemed especially difficult over the most recent weekend as new restrictions came into force.

But I want to make a special plea today to everybody to continue to stick to all of the rules and the guidance.  

Please don’t think that it is safe to cut corners.

I know just how tempting it is to visit friends or family right now, or have them visit us. I know that it might feel that on any individual occasion one of us does that it’s harmless.

But it’s not harmless. Because every time one of us does that, we are giving the virus the opportunity to spread from one household to another and we know that is the big risk that we face right now.

The fact that the virus is spreading too rapidly right now from household to household, and that is the key issue that we are trying to address. So please do stick to that very important rule and don’t visit other people in their homes at the moment.

Also as you know, and as I’ve been reflecting on, there are additional restrictions on hospitality across the country, right now, but particularly in five health board regions. Lothian, Lanarkshire, Forth Valley, Ayrshire and Arran and Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

In an addition to the hospitality restrictions in these health board areas, we are asking people who are living in those areas not to travel outside them if they don’t need to. So if you live in Greater Glasgow and Clyde don’t travel outside Greater Glasgow and Clyde if you don’t really need to.

We are not insisting that people cancel October holiday plans, but we are asking more generally to please avoid travel that you don’t need to take to different parts of Scotland or to different parts of the UK.

In addition to that, and this applies to people across Scotland, when you do travel, please be very careful. Be especially cautious if you are travelling, whether that is in Scotland or elsewhere in the UK, to places that are seeing high rates of infection.

We have seen a number of Covid cases in recent weeks coming through our test and protect system, which have been associated with travel, often coach travel, to other parts of the UK, and so that underlines how important it is to be careful. Make sure you are wearing face coverings, observing physical distancing and taking all other precautionary measures.

Alongside these guidelines on travel, there are of course other important rules that apply to everyone across Scotland. No matter where we live.

As I said a moment ago, please do not visit each other people’s homes right now, except for very specific purposes like childcare or caring for a vulnerable person. I know that’s a tough restriction but it is possibly the most important one that we are all being asked to comply with right now.

When we do meet outdoors, or in indoor public places, like cafes, the maximum group size should be 6, and those 6 should come from no more than 2 different households.

Work from home if you can.

Download the Protect Scotland app, if you haven’t done that already.

And finally, remember the FACTS, these are the key bits of advice that if we all follow we will reduce the chances the virus has to spread. So:

  • wear face coverings when you are out and about, but particularly in enclosed spaces
  • avoid crowded places
  • clean your hands and clean hard surfaces
  • two metres distance from other households
  • self-isolate and get tested if you have any of the symptoms

These are the rules that help us look after ourselves, and minimise our own risk of getting Covid, but also the rules that help us look after each other and minimise the risk of any of us inadvertently passing it on to someone else.

If all of us follow the rules then each one of us will play our part in the collective endeavour of keeping the virus under control.

So thanks again to everybody for continuing to abide by these rules and please help spread the word to others, and encourage them to do so as well.