Sturgeon announces extra £50m to help care sector combat coronavirus

Nicola Sturgeon has announced an extra £50 million to help the care sector tackle Covid-19.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said the social care sector is “under immense pressure” as a result of Covid-19.

She revealed 1,912 patients have now died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 50 from 1,862 on Monday.

The most recent figures for deaths in Scotland’s care homes, published by the National Records of Scotland on Wednesday May 6, show 43% of all Covid-19 linked registered deaths to date are in these settings.

As of Sunday, 65% of Scotland’s care homes have alerted the Care Inspectorate to at least one suspected coronavirus case since the start of the outbreak, latest figures show.

As of that date, 44% of care homes in Scotland had a current suspected case.

Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government is “working hard to support the sector in every way we can”, with increased testing in care homes and supplies of personal protective equipment.

Announcing the extra cash, she said this will “help meet extra costs in the care sector that have been incurred as a result of Covid-19”.

Money will go to all 32 of Scotland’s councils to cover both care homes and care at home services.

“It will help to ensure that care services around the country can cope with the immense pressures that they are facing at this time,” she said.

She also announced £31 million to extend the small business grants scheme to those properties eligible for charitable or sports rate relief.

The First Minister stressed lockdown restrictions – which were brought in seven weeks ago – remain in place for Scotland.

While the UK Government has published guidance for businesses ahead of a possible return to work, she stressed that was “not yet operational in Scotland since at this stage we are not currently encouraging more people to go back to work”.

She said the Scottish Government is working with employers and trade unions to develop its own guidance on safe workplaces.

Working groups have been set up for 14 different sectors of the economy “to consider how quickly and in what manner we can start to return to work”.

Here she said “early priorities” will be the retail, manufacturing and construction sectors, adding industries such as tourism, energy, finance and food and drink are also being considered.

Ms Sturgeon announced 13,763 people in Scotland have now tested positive for the virus, a rise of 136 from 13,627 Monday.

As of Monday night, 1,618 patients were in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, up 165 from 1,453 the previous day.

Of these, 81 are in intensive care, a rise of one.

Ms Sturgeon stressed the rise in cases is through patients suspected to have the virus, with confirmed cases down 14 in 24 hours to 1,131.

The rise in suspected cases in hospitals is being looked into, Ms Sturgeon added, as she cautioned against any “undue concern”.