New expert group to tackle Covid-19 as death toll in Scotland rises to 22

The Scottish Government is setting up its own expert advisory group to help in the Covid-19 battle, Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed.

Scotland’s First Minister announced the move as she revealed the number of coronavirus deaths in the country has risen to 22.

That is up by six from Tuesday’s total of 16, the First Minister said, adding a further 51 people are in intensive care suffering from Covid-19 or with symptoms of the virus.

During a media briefing at the Scottish Government’s HQ on Wednesday afternoon, Ms Sturgeon said the advisory body will be chaired by Professor Andrew Morris from the University of Edinburgh, who is also chief scientist at the Scottish Government’s health directorate.

Professor David Crossman, the dean of medicine at the University of St Andrews, will serve as vice-chairman.

She explained the new body will help give “the fullest possible understanding of exactly how the virus is spreading in Scotland”.

The new Scottish Government Covid-19 advisory group will supplement the work of Sage – the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies – which has been advising ministers north and south of the border.

Ms Sturgeon said: “At all times, the Scottish Government’s actions have been guided by the best and most up to date expert scientific advice, working closely of course with Governments across the UK.

“But as the number of cases increase it is every more important that we have the fullest possible understanding of exactly how the virus is spreading in Scotland.

“We need to be certain that the decisions we are taking are the most effective ones possible and we need to know whether there are more steps that are required to be taken.

“So for that reason  I can confirm today we are now seeking to supplement the advice from the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, or Sage as it is known, and we are establishing a new Scottish Government Covid-19 advisory group.”

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