Sturgeon: Circuit-breaker lockdown not being considered despite record cases

Scotland is “not currently considering a circuit-breaker lockdown” despite a record number of new Covid-19 cases and a steep rise in patients in hospital with the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister told a coronavirus briefing that 6,835 new cases had been reported in the past 24 hours – the second time in a week that a record, new, daily figure has been reported.

The number of coronavirus patients in Scotland also continues to rise, with 479 people in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 53 on the previous day and an increase from 312 one week ago.

A total of four deaths of coronavirus patients were recorded in the last 24 hours, bringing the death toll since the start of the pandemic to 8,103.

Ms Sturgeon cautioned that the rise in cases was partly due to a record number of tests being taken on Thursday.

And she said that “none of us want to go backwards to even limited restrictions”.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“Some of the speculation you might be reading in the media is not accurate,” she said. “We are not currently considering a circuit breaker lockdown.”

She said the Scottish Government was closing monitoring any rise in serious illnesses and “people being hospitalised”.

“In the past seven days we have reported more new cases than at any previous time in the pandemic, although I refer back to my point about higher levels of testing, but case numbers have roughly doubled over the course of the past seven days,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“It’s important to point out that case numbers are rising across the UK just now, but after a period of slower increases in Scotland the rise here is particularly sharp at the moment.

Nicola Sturgeon on a phone
Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the media during the briefing (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“That is possibly, at least in part, a reflection of the fact that our schools return earlier, with the increased interactions that come with that.”

She said the vaccination programme had “significantly weakened” but not “completely broken” the link between cases and serious illness.

The First Minister urged everyone to do their part to help slow the spread of the virus.

“For the moment I do need to stress the vital importance of everyone playing their part in limiting spread of the virus. The more we all do this, the more chance we have of avoiding the need for the re-imposition of any formal restrictions,” she said.