Sturgeon says Scotland making ‘real progress’ on Covid-19 as R number falls

The rate at which coronavirus infections are being passed on has fallen in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

The R number, which measures how many people an infected person passes Covid-19 on to, is estimated to be between 0.6 and 0.8 as of Friday June 5.

This is down from an estimated 0.7 and 0.9 the previous week – but the estimates do not take into account the changes made when Scotland moved into the first phase of easing lockdown.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh, the First Minister said an estimated 4,500 people in Scotland were infectious on Friday, down from 11,500 since the previous week.

She stressed the latter was likely to have been an overestimate.

Ms Sturgeon said: “These latest estimates reflect the encouraging data that we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks and there is no doubt in looking at all of this data that we are making very real progress in combating and suppressing the virus.”

The First Minister announced the construction industry in Scotland will be able to move into the next stage of its reopening plan.

It means workers will now gradually be able to return to construction sites, making sure to adhere to hand hygiene and social distancing measures.

Ms Sturgeon said there have been no changes made to the first phase of the Scottish Government’s route map, as the construction sector was always expected to move to the next stage during this period.

Despite the announcement, the First Minister said there is still “a long way to go” until construction is back to normal.

She urged people to continue being “careful and cautious” to avoid a resurgence of the virus.

Ms Sturgeon said: “A week today we will have further review of the lockdown restrictions.

“I am currently very hopeful that at that point we will be able to lift some further restrictions, we may not be able to do everything in phase two but I hope that we can do certainly at least some of that.”

She also announced a year-long extension of the Scottish Government’s help-to-buy scheme to March 2022 and financial support for students to help them through the summer.

Help-to-buy provides up to 15% of the price of buying a new-build house, was due to end in March next year.

Ms Sturgeon said more than £11 million of support will be made available for students through their colleges or universities to help those who “most need it”.

On the latest coronavirus figures for Scotland, Ms Sturgeon said 2,439 patients have died after testing positive for Covid-19, up by five from 2,434 on Wednesday.

A total of 15,682 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 17 from 15,665 the previous day.

There are 909 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, a fall of 78 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 21 were in intensive care, up three.

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