Coronavirus death toll in Scotland reaches 14

By Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter

Four more people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has said, taking the death toll to 14.

The First Minister urged people to take Government advice on social distancing seriously to save lives.

She said shops not providing essentials such as food or medicine should close.

In a briefing at St Andrews House in Edinburgh, the First Minister said 499 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland, an increase of 83 from Sunday.

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also confirmed 23 people were currently in intensive care due to coronavirus.

Dr Calderwood said the true numbers of positive cases could be thousands more than currently known.

She said: “Those 14 deaths probably each represent up to 1,000 people that have become infected.

“We have 23 people currently in our intensive care units across Scotland who have coronavirus and each of them represents perhaps 400 to 500 other people that will have become infected in the course of their illness.”

Encouraging people to responsibly use the outdoors – avoiding unnecessary contact with people not in their immediate household – Dr Calderwood added: “We’re going to have to adapt to life in this new world.

“We will encourage people to continue to use the outdoors, to keep their physical and mental well-being as good as possible, but we’re really in this for a marathon not a sprint.”

(PA Graphics)

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman used the briefing to announce measures aimed at supporting NHS patients.

Firstly, Ms Freeman announced the setup of virtual “community hubs”, which will be accessed by calling NHS24 on 111.

She said people will be assessed over the phone and will be given additional advice or have an appointment made for them to attend an assessment centre, where they will be seen in person and treated or referred to hospital.

The Health Secretary also urged people using NHS24 to obtain sick notes to instead use the NHS website in a bid to leave the phone lines free for people to access the hubs.

She said: “This is a single service across the whole country, delivered through our health boards, covering our remote and rural communities as well so it is national coverage through that 111 phone number, available 24/7.”

The Health Secretary said the hubs will also free up GPs to continue providing support and treatment for ailments other than coronavirus.

The reach of community pharmacists has also been extended by the Health Secretary through the minor ailment service, meaning the initiative will be able to “play its full part” in stopping the spread of the disease.