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Latest revision as of 18:36, 23 May 2020

Nicola Sturgeon has said some coronavirus restrictions could be kept in place for the rest of the year or longer as she warned "a return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future".

The First Minister was speaking at her daily coronavirus briefing as the Scottish Government published a report pledging an easing of the lockdown measures will be "conducted in a phased and careful manner".

She stressed people will need to "find a way to live with this virus".

Ms Sturgeon said the number of people in Scotland who have died after testing positive for the virus is 1,120, up by 58 from 1,062 on Wednesday.

A total of 9,409 people have now tested positive, up by 371 from 9,038 the day before.

The number of people in intensive care and hospital in Scotland has fallen in the past 24 hours, by seven to 148 and by 28 to 1,776 respectively, which she said is cause for "real optimism".

But the First Minister warned: "We have to be prepared for some kind of changes to how we live our lives being with us for potentially the rest of this year, maybe even beyond."

As of 2pm today, 44,799 people in Scotland have been tested for #coronavirus

35,390 confirmed negative
9,409 positive

1,120 patients who tested positive have sadly died.

Latest update ➡️ website
Health advice ➡️ website pic.twitter.com/y0ExeS17AV

— Scottish Government (@scotgov) April 23, 2020

She said the key objective of paper is to continue to suppress the virus, adding the Scottish Government is "increasingly confident" the measures put in place are helping to do this.

But she warned: "As we start to lift the restrictions, the real risk is that Covid-19 runs rampant again.

"So a return to normal as we knew it is not on the cards in the near future and it's really important that I am upfront with you about that.

"What we must do is find a new normal, a way of living alongside this virus but in a form that keeps it under control and stops it taking the toll we know it can do."

Her comments come as experts from Oxford University's Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine said their analysis of Covid-19 data in Scotland suggests the peak of the virus may have passed.

The Scottish Government paper sets out the importance of effective surveillance of coronavirus, including "early and effective tracing of everyone a confirmed case has been in contact with over a certain period".

The First Minister also spoke about how schools and workplaces might have to be "redesigned" to allow for bandar bola online social distancing to take place.

She said the Scottish Government is also looking to issue guidance on face coverings - saying people might be advised to use these in "limited circumstances".

But she added: "We don't want to overstate the impact that can have, nor do we want to give people the sense that as long as they are covering their face it is OK to do normal things without social distancing."

Ms Sturgeon said the reproduction rate of the virus - the number of people each person who contracts Covid-19 passes it on to - must be kept below one, with best estimates now putting this at "somewhere between 0.6 and one".

While restrictions have reduced this, she said the lockdown is doing "damage" to Scotland, with problems in business, education and living standards.

The First Minister said a better "balance" needs to be found.

The paper published by the Scottish Government is a "first cut", she said, designed to start an "adult conversation" about this.

Here's the link to @scotgov paper on the factors and complexities we need to balance as we navigate the best way forward on #coronavirus website

— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 23, 2020

It is "likely" restrictions on gathering in groups, which have shut down pubs and led to public events such as sports matches, concerts and festivals across the country being cancelled, will need to continue "for some time to come", the report warns.

Good hand and cough hygiene "must become fundamental habits", it states, adding "each one of us will have to adapt to this as the new normal, at least until we are sure that we can be more protected by a vaccine or treatment".

The report stresses: "Our assessment is that now is not the right time to relax restrictions."

It adds: "If, after easing any restrictions, the evidence tells us we are unable to contain the transmission of the virus then we will have to reimpose them, possibly returning to lockdown with little notice.

"While we will do our best to avoid this, it is possible that such a cycle may happen more than once until we reach a point when we have in place an effective vaccine."