Football suspended and Six Nations match postponed as coronavirus cases hit 85

All Scottish football has been suspended and a Six Nations rugby clash postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak as the number of cases in Scotland hit 85.

The Scottish Government said the latest daily figures show 3,314 Scottish tests have been carried out, with 3,229 proving negative.

The number of positive cases is up 25 from Thursday.

The latest figures came after the SPFL announced the postponement of all fixtures from Friday, with this Sunday’s Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox among those affected.

The Scottish FA said it had made the decision in the interests of the health and safety of players, match officials, staff, supporters and the general public.

SFA chief executive Ian Maxwell said: “Today’s announcement is made in the interests of public health but, equally, the health and safety of players, match officials, and staff across the game. This is of paramount importance as the country enters the ‘delay’ phase of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It is also why the Scottish FA is compelled to ensure that the suspension is cascaded through the non-professional and grassroots games until further notice.”

Friday’s Premiership match between Motherwell and Aberdeen and the Championship match between Queen of the South and Ayr United are the first to be postponed.

The SFA and SPFL said they will continue to liaise with governments and Uefa in relation to domestic, European and international fixtures in the coming days.

Neil Doncaster, SPFL chief executive, said there are no confirmed cases of coronavirus amongst players in Scotland, but given the nature of the outbreak it seems “only a matter of time” until there are.

Meanwhile the Wales v Scotland Six Nations game in Cardiff on Saturday has also been postponed.

Latest figures show Greater Glasgow and Clyde now has the highest number of confirmed cases with 21, followed by Lothian with 20 and Grampian with 11.

Tayside, Lanarkshire, Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley, Fife, Shetland and the Borders health boards also have confirmed cases of Covid-19.

On Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced large gatherings which require emergency service support or could impact the health service would cease from Monday in Scotland to “remove unnecessary burdens” on front-line services.

However Professor Jason Leitch, who is responsible for planning in the Scottish NHS, said on Friday that more “draconian measures” such as closing borders, stopping travel and halting public transport would risk creating further problems in the future.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “The best science available says that if you allow the growth at a certain level – and you can’t control 60 million people exactly – we will control the rising of the peak and we won’t create a second peak.

“We fear that in other parts of the world that’s what they’re doing.

“If you release those measures, the virus is still there and you have very few people who are now immune to the virus because you have very few people who have caught the virus.

“You’re just delaying the inevitable.”

On the potential for school closures, Mr Leitch said they are “not necessarily going to happen” as he explained children having to be looked after and their apparent lower contagion are two key reasons for not shutting them at this stage.

Lanark Grammar School has temporarily closed for deep cleaning after a case of the virus was confirmed there.

Shetland Council said some schools will close to children next week “for operational and resilience reasons”, not for public health reasons, but will remain open for staff.

Helen Budge, director of children’s services at the council, added: “We are already seeing significant levels of pupil and staff absence. We realise that this will have an impact on working parents and carers but hope that they will understand and support this decision”

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