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

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A Covid-19 information sign at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
A Covid-19 information sign at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

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.

Later on Friday, Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch warned cases could reach nearly 14,000 a week if they continue increasing at the current rate.

Ms Sturgeon said 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.

She 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)
(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 spoke to the media during the briefing (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)
Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the media during the briefing (Andrew Milligan/PA) (PA Wire)

“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.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Drivetime show, Professor Leitch said the modelling shows cases are going to worsen.

He said: “If you think about doubling time, we’ve doubled in seven days so if that continues we will be at double what we’ve got today.

“We are at 6,800 so we’ll be at nearly 14,000 a week from now unless we’ve reached a peak or are heading for a peak that isn’t quite visible to us.

“The NHS will cope with pretty much everything… The problem is as soon as you fill it with Covid you have to make room for that and you make room by stopping non-essential and non-urgent getting in.

He said the reason for the rise in cases will only become clear “over a long time period” but cited schools returning and the Delta variant having taken hold in Glasgow.

He added: “I fear when England and Wales open their schools.”

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