Daily coronavirus deaths in Scotland at highest level since May

The number of daily coronavirus deaths in Scotland has hit its highest level since May, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s briefing in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the First Minister said 50 deaths from Covid-19 and 1,433 positive tests have been recorded in the last 24 hours.

It takes the death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – to 2,927.

A total of 4,649 people have died in Scotland with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, the National Records of Scotland said earlier on Wednesday.

Its figures – which record all deaths registered in Scotland when Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate – show 167 fatalities were registered between October 26 and November 1, an increase of 61 from the previous week

Ms Sturgeon said it is too soon to know if Wednesday’s high daily figure is part of a trend but she stressed the number of deaths is not the most reliable indicator of the spread of the virus.

She warned coronavirus could “overwhelm” Scotland’s hospitals if there is not a “significant and sustained improvement” in the reduction of coronavirus before the winter months.

“Although we continue to see some positive signs in our data just now, and that’s all down to the sacrifices people across the country are making, we still are dealing with a very fragile and volatile situation,” she said.

Ms Sturgeon said if the infection rate is not brought down “the risk we would bear is going deeper into the winter with a high baseline of infection and that would mean any increase in the R number could quickly see the virus overwhelm us and overwhelm our hospitals”.

She added: “We’ll be monitoring the situation closely ahead of the first review of our new levels system next Tuesday.”

The First Minister also used the briefing to repeat calls for the furlough scheme and support for the self-employed to be available beyond the period England is in lockdown.

Ms Sturgeon said she has not had formal confirmation from the UK Government but hopes to get clarity at some point later on Wednesday.

Referring to the Prime Minister’s announcement that furlough at 80% of wages will be extended for the planned four-week lockdown in England, Ms Sturgeon said: “The same level of financial support must also be available after November.

“The current confusion and the lack of clarity is – and I think this is an obvious point – not helpful for our decision-making but it is not helpful for businesses and employees who of course are anxious about jobs and wages at this time.

“We cannot have a situation where businesses are rightly fully supported when England enters a lockdown but comparable support isn’t made available if all or part of Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland face similar restrictions.”

She added: “So I very much welcome the apparent commitment of the Prime Minister to equal treatment that he gave in the House of Commons on Monday afternoon.

“As a result of that commitment, we hope and expect that the furlough scheme will be available at its current levels that will apply through November if we need to import stronger restrictions in any part of the country in the future.

“But we have still not seen any detailed written commitments on this from the Treasury and we need to do that as a matter of urgency.”

Meanwhile, chief fire officer Martin Blunden urged people to follow Covid-19 restrictions when celebrating Bonfire Night.

He said it is important to reduce the strain on emergency services during the pandemic.