Lockdown to continue as coronavirus deaths in Scotland rise to 575

There are “optimistic signs” the coronavirus lockdown is working but restrictions will continue, Nicola Sturgeon said as Scotland’s death toll rose to 575.

A total of 6,067 people have now tested positive for the virus in the country, up 155 from 5,912 the day before, with nine more deaths.

There are 211 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, a decrease of 10 on Sunday, and 1,797 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

The First Minister said labs in the Tayside and Ayrshire and Arran health board areas have not reported testing figures from the last 24 hours and death figures are often lower after the weekend.

“There are early optimistic signs that the steps we are taking are working but until we know more, until we have solid evidence, we must stick with it,” she said.

A review of lockdown measures will take place this week but Ms Sturgeon said this is unlikely to lead to a lift in restrictions.

Amid concern over deaths in care homes, Ms Sturgeon said the Government is working with the Care Inspectorate to take action.

“I want to give a very strong assurance firstly, that we’re working hard with the Care Inspectorate to provide appropriate support to care homes, their staff and their residents,” she said.

“Secondly, we’re working hard to ensure that we can publish full and robust information about numbers of cases in care homes, which we hope to do later this week.”

The First Minister also announced £17 million of a £50 million fund has been earmarked for charities supporting people through the crisis.

Some £10 million has been allocated for “immediate priorities” and the other £7 million will be handed out in small grants to around 2,000 charities.

The remaining £33 million is open to bids from charities.

A helpline will also be launched on Tuesday to support people who are vulnerable but not in one of the shielded groups.

Interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith urged families of those who have died during the outbreak not to delay funerals, in a bid to stop a backlog.

Jeane Freeman
Jeane Freeman

Dr Gregor Smith said: “The sector can cope, if everyone understands and appreciates the circumstances that we find ourselves in and continues to arrange a funeral for loved ones as normal, and I do stress, without delay.”

He added: “At this time, it’s very important that people do not delay funerals of their loved ones.

“It’s important that people are able to grieve the passing of a loved one, but delaying the funeral in anticipation of social distancing measures being lifted could increase strain on funeral and mortuary services responding to coronavirus.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said the NHS in Scotland has enough capacity to deal with the outbreak having trebled capacity to treat intensive care patients.

She said work is still being undertaken to increase capacity, with a target of quadrupling the initial capacity.