The possible options for easing Scotland’s coronavirus lockdown restrictions will be revealed in the coming days, Nicola Sturgeon has pledged.
The First Minister said she will soon “say more about the different options under consideration” by ministers.
She made the pledge as she said there are “real signs of progress” in tackling the spread of Covid-19 in Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon said: “In the coming days, I will say more about the different options under consideration and how we’re going about assessing those.”
The First Minister said the latest figures show a total of 1,262 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up 13 from 1,249 on Sunday.
A total of 10,521 people have now tested positive for the disease, a rise of 197 from the previous day’s total.
There are 134 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, an increase of one on Sunday, while 1,762 people are in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.
She said 2,380 people who have tested positive for coronavirus have now left hospital after treatment and the overall trend in statistics gives “cause for cautious optimism”.
Speaking at her daily briefing from the Scottish Government’s HQ in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said the number of people requiring intensive care treatment has dropped by “around a third” in the last two weeks, while the number of hospital patients is now broadly stable.
She stressed it is too soon to lift the lockdown that has been in place for over a month, saying: “This progress remains very fragile and now is a time for all of us to exercise careful caution.
As of 2pm today, 50,294 people in Scotland have been tested for #coronavirus
39,773 confirmed negative10,521 positive
1,262 who tested positive have sadly died.
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) April 27, 2020
“It’s certainly not the time to throw caution to the wind.”
With the Scottish Government having published a paper on Thursday setting out how decisions on easing restrictions could be made, she also told the public: “In the coming days, as the next iteration of the document we set out last Thursday, we will say a bit more about the specific options we are considering.”
The First Minister was clear “none of that means they will definitely happen any time soon”.
But she said her Government is “looking at different options at how we can safely start to restore some normality, including in terms of schools, without jeopardising our objective of keeping the virus as suppressed as we need to keep it”.
Education Secretary John Swinney was reported in The Times as saying schools could potentially go back “earlier than when they would generally normally resume in August”.
The First Minister said: “We are looking at some options about what could you do in terms of schools, and how do we mitigate the loss and interruption to children’s education.”
But she stressed: “We’ve not taken firm decisions on any of this yet.”
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish Government could consider easing the lockdown at a different rate in different regions “if the evidence tells us that helps us be more effective in combating the virus”.
But her preference, she said, is for “as much consistency as possible” across the country.
The First Minister added the Scottish Government will publish guidance – possibly on Tuesday – on the use of face coverings such as scarves and bandanas, although she said the evidence for using these is “not overwhelming”.
She stressed the need for decisions to be based on scientific evidence, saying: “As a leader you have a duty to inform your decision making with science.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “If you don’t inform your decision making by the best science then you end up standing at a podium suggesting that people should perhaps drink disinfectant or inject disinfectant.”