The first minister said during the Scottish government’s daily briefing that no new coronavirus deaths had been reported in the country on Monday, but the number of people in hospital had increased to 256.
The 256 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 was an increase of 12 in the past 24 hours. Of these patients, five were in intensive care, up one from Sunday.
Some 21,543 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, a daily increase of 146 and down from Sunday’s figures, which showed 208 positive cases recorded in 24 hours.
Sturgeon issued a stark warning that action was needed if the country was to avoid a second national lockdown, pointing to a “very definite trend at the moment”.
She said: “We must take this trend seriously and if we want to avoid having to close parts of our economy down again, and I think we all want to avoid that, we must step up our other ways of keeping COVID under control.
“This really is a key moment, and I want therefore to be pretty frank with you in my assessment today.”
Restrictions on visiting other households were applied to people living in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire last week after 66 new positive tests were recorded in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde area on Tuesday.
The Scottish government is set to review that guidance on Thursday.
Six weeks ago, the average number of cases being reported in Scotland was just 14 per day, but this has risen to 152 daily over the last seven days.
The percentage of Scots confirmed with the virus has also risen from less than 1% two weeks ago to 2.4% on Monday.
Sturgeon said: “In some ways it shouldn’t surprise us, in recent weeks we have opened up most of our economy.
“But as we have released ourselves from lockdown we have also released the virus from lockdown.”
📺 Watch live: First Minister @NicolaSturgeon holds a press conference on #coronavirus (#COVIDー19).
Joining the First Minister today is Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and Scotland’s Interim Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith. https://t.co/z735oXtA1O
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) September 7, 2020
She promised to “be frank about the reasons why we can’t afford to slip into complacency about the things we need to do to try to keep the situation under control”.
Sturgeon said the last time more than 200 cases were reported in a single day was 8 May – but she said there were “important differences” between the situation now and then.
A lower proportion of those being tested were now confirmed as having coronavirus, she said, adding that earlier in the year the daily case numbers were “probably more of an underestimate” than they are now, with more people being tested.
She added that on 8 May there were 75 people in intensive care with coronavirus and more than 1,000 people in hospital with the disease – significantly higher than the totals now.
Sturgeon said “generally” higher numbers of cases were not being reflected in a “significant increase” in hospital admissions.
The first minister said this may “partly reflect the fact that right now younger people make up a higher percentage of positive cases”.
There was a “warning” in hospital admissions, Sturgeon said, which had risen to 22 in the week ending 31 August, up from 14 in each of the previous two weeks.
In the last three weeks, half of all hospital admissions have been in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area, she added.
As a result, she said: “We really must continue to act with resolve.”
While Sturgeon conceded that following the public health advice was “tedious” and “inconvenient”, she added: “The virus is spreading again. It is not an option simply to do nothing about that.
“Or if we were to do nothing we risk in the weeks ahead going back to a mounting toll of illness and death.
“Let’s not take that risk.”
Coronavirus: what happened today