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Sturgeon outlines why coronavirus lockdown cannot be lifted yet and calls on Scotland to stick with it


By Scott Maclennan

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she “really feared” just a few weeks ago that the NHS in Scotland would be overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

She used today's daily briefing to tell the people of Scotland that she will “never be able to tell you how grateful I am”for the vast majority adhering to the lockdown.

The First Minister concentrated on outlining why the lockdown and social distancing measures could not be lifted yet, and offered a stark glimpse of what could happen if they were.

Currently, the rate of infection – the so-called "R number" – is less than one, so for every person infected with Covid-19 less than one other person contracts it from them.

With the lockdown due to be reconsidered again next week Ms Sturgeon confirmed it was unlikely to be significantly relaxed.

She said: “I have to be straight with you that it may very well be too early, this time next week, to say in any meaningful way we can safely lift any of the current restrictions. I want to share with you today the reasons for that.

“Overall the transmission in the community of the virus has been reduced very significantly as a result of the lockdown although, of course, we know that it remains higher in settings such as care homes for example.

“The R number that you have heard us talk about before, the rate at which the virus reproduces, is now below one – and remember that, at the start of the lockdown, we thought it was above three, so that is real and very positive progress.

“With the R number below one that means that for every 100 people with the virus they pass it on to fewer than 100 more people and so on and so on – so the total number of cases will gradually decline.

“There have been reports in the last day or so from Germany that their R number is rising again as a slight easing up there has been taking effect.

“If their R number does go back above one – let’s say that it goes to even just 1.5 – then the 100 people would between them transmit the virus to 150 people. They in turn would pass it on to 220 people and so on and so on.

“And suddenly the virus is spreading exponentially again and that would mean more people in hospital and intensive care and even more people dying.

"So the point I am making today is not an easy one, but it is an essential one."

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