LiveNicola Sturgeon Christmas coronavirus statement RECAP: First Minister warns new strain could lead to 'exponential growth' in cases

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The latest updates on Covid-19 in Scotland.

Coronavirus in Scotland LIVE: Nicola Sturgeon to update Holyrood on latest Covid developments

Last updated: Tuesday, 22 December, 2020, 15:16

  • 1,316 new Covid cases and 43 further deaths in past 24 hours
  • Scottish level four rules 'may be strengthened'
  • Glasgow Royal Mail office hit by coronavirus outbreak
  • EU calls for reversal of travel ban
  • Nicola Sturgeon appoints new public health minister
  • Talks with France to ease freight curbs ‘ongoing’

Peaky Blinders star Sophie Rundle suffers ‘juicy bout of Covid-19’

Peaky Blinders star Sophie Rundle has said she has a “nice juicy bout of Covid-19” and has been so sick she has been to hospital.

The actress, 32, who has recently been filming the second series of Gentleman Jack, shared photos on Instagram of herself looking miserable.

She wrote: “GREETINGS FROM MY SICK BED!

“So for Christmas this year I got myself a nice juicy bout of Covid-19. I also have a very festive bloodshot eye from all the hardcore vomiting I did in hospital (swipe if you’re feeling brave).

“I can taste NOTHING, I have a cough to rival a Dickensian workhouse orphan boy and the angel on top of my festive sickness tree is the TOOTHACHE from my gnarly little wisdom teeth at the back there.

“Quite the feast of festive ailments! But self pity is such a drag and we’re all fed up right?

“So how are we all doing? What is everyone finding to cheer themselves up? If you’re feeling low or at the end of your tether, please know you are not alone. You can join my gang. Comment below and let’s cheer each other up.”

Dementia sufferers ‘deteriorating faster than expected during pandemic’

Dementia sufferers have seen their condition deteriorate “more quickly than would normally be expected” during the Covid-19 pandemic, according a new Scottish Government report.

In addition, coronavirus has meant the likelihood of people receiving a timely diagnosis has been reduced, along with options for support after the condition has been confirmed.

But the Scottish Government has now pledged that dementia sufferers and their carers will be able to benefit from increased access to respite and community services, and better post-diagnostic care.

The commitment was included in the new dementia and Covid-19 action plan.

There are some 90,000 people in Scotland living with dementia, with most of them living at home, while about a third stay in care homes.

The plan acknowledged that the “necessary restrictions on all our freedoms” had had a “disproportionate impact on people with dementia and on the stress, trauma and anxiety of those who care for them”.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know many people may question whether these measures are strictly necessary, especially given Scotland’s relatively low level of prevalence, compared to other parts of the UK.

“My firm judgment is that they are necessary.

“They are not simply as a response to our current situation, but necessary precautionary measures to avoid a significant deterioration in our situation, caused by this new strain, over the next few weeks.”

She added that she did “not expect a single person to be happy” about the new restrictions, but asked people to “try to understand that these decisions would not have been taken if we did not consider them essential”.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

With Christmas fast approaching, Nicola Sturgeon accepted her statement to MSPs had “not had a festive feel to it”.

But she insisted: “Hard though it is to feel it right now, there is hope on the horizon and we mustn’t lose sight of it.

“First, it is possible that we have found out about the new variant of Covid, at an early enough stage to take effective preventative action.

“By moving quickly, we may be able to minimise its worst impacts.”

She also added a “real reason for hope” was that tens of thousands of Scots have already been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Ms Sturgeon told people by following the regulations they were “buying time for the vaccination programme to pick up pace”.

She said: “Though it might feel in the next few weeks that things are getting worse – and I know that in terms of health, jobs and living standards, that will be a reality for many – the fact is that things will also be getting better.

“The vaccines will be making sure of that and they really do promise a route back to greater normality for all of us.”

The First Minister told people: “I fully appreciate this may not be the happiest of Christmasses for everyone, but I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a peaceful and a healthy Christmas.”

Nicola Sturgeon says people should stay at home from Boxing Day and guidance could become law

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Nicola Sturgeon toughens up Level 4 covid rules and people could be required to stay at home by law from Boxing Day

The Scottish Government could make it law forbidding travel outside your own local area, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon also said the Scottish Government was “ready to help in any way we can” in dealing with the situation.

She added: “Since any solution is likely to include mass testing of freight drivers, that includes a willingness, if the terms of the agreement allow, to provide testing facilities for our sector here in Scotland.

“I want to assure the sector, parliament and the public generally that I and my ministers will remain fully and actively engaged on these matters until they are resolved.”

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon said the “real and immediate concern” was the impact the border closure was having on food exporters, especially those trying to sell Scottish seafood to Europe.

She stated: “This is the peak time of year for seafood exports and the Christmas export trade is now almost certainly lost.

“This is devastating for our world-class seafood businesses and they need our support.”

The Scottish Government is speaking to the sector about the “need for immediate financial support”, Ms Sturgeon added, saying she had also raised the issue of compensation at the Cobra meeting on Monday.

She insisted: “What the sector needs most of all is for the UK Government and France to agree a protocol to get freight moving again without delay.

“If that doesn’t happen almost immediately, the sector stands to lose its New Year export trade too.”

Scottish ministers are “pressing the UK Government to give this the utmost priority”, the First Minister added.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon spoke out about the “serious impact” the closure of the border between UK and France was having as she urged Westminster to reach a deal to resolve this “without delay”.

The Scottish First Minister told Holyrood: “The situation is serious, urgent and, for our food exporters, rapidly deteriorating.

“It needs the UK Government to reach agreement with France, without delay, to get freight moving again. There is no time to lose.”

Ms Sturgeon stressed there were “no concerns about medicine supplies at this stage”.

She also insisted there were “no immediate concerns about food supplies”, adding: “Supermarkets are well stocked. So there is absolutely no need for anyone to buy more than planned.”

However, she said: “If the situation is not resolved in the next day or so, we may start to see pressure on some fresh produce after Christmas – but that is not a concern right now and I hope it will not arise at all.”

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon said: “I know many people may question whether these measures are strictly necessary, especially given Scotland’s relatively low level of prevalence, compared to other parts of the UK.

“My firm judgment is that they are necessary.

“They are not simply as a response to our current situation, but necessary precautionary measures to avoid a significant deterioration in our situation, caused by this new strain, over the next few weeks.”

She added that she did “not expect a single person to be happy” about the new restrictions, but asked people to “try to understand that these decisions would not have been taken if we did not consider them essential”.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon also said the Scottish Government was considering if the current Level 4 restrictions needed to be toughened up.

She told MSPs at Holyrood: “To be blunt with Parliament and the public, the current Level 4 restrictions are not as stringent as the March lockdown.

“However, it seems that we are facing a virus that spreads much faster now than in March, so we need to consider whether the current Level 4 restrictions will be sufficient to suppress it.”

With the Scottish Government also having decided to delay the start of the new school term for most pupils, and have classes start back with online learning, Ms Sturgeon said this “precautionary approach” had been needed to give ministers time to assess the impact the new strain could have on schools and education.

She told how the Government had taken the “difficult decision to delay the start of the new school term”  to January 11 and to have “at least” the first week of studies on line

Ms Sturgeon added: “Our intention is that schools will get back to normal from January 18 – but we will require to keep this under review.”

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

The Level 4 restrictions will be applied across Scotland for three weeks, Nicola Sturgeon said, but will be reviewed after 14 days.

This will mean hospitality businesses will have to close for all but takeaways, and that non-essential shops will also be forced to shut their doors.

Ms Sturgeon said “given the severity of the situation” the definition of non-essential retail was being applied more widely, so that homeware stores and garden centres will also have to close, apart from click-and-collect services.

While current Level 4 restrictions prevent people from leaving their local council area unless this is essential, Ms Sturgeon said from Saturday the “strong advice” would be for people to “stay as local as possible and at home as much as possible”.

She added: “We will be considering in the days ahead whether we need to place that advice in law.”

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Nicola Sturgeon said: “The very rapid spread in London and the South East serves as a warning of what we will face here if we do not take firm action to suppress the virus.

“We have a real concern that, without significant counter measures, we could be facing another period of exponential growth as we enter the new year.

“That would mean many more people catching Covid and, even without this new strain causing more severe illness, that would result in many more people needing hospital and intensive care. That would put an enormous strain on the NHS and lead to much more loss of life.

“To be blunt, that is what we have to act now to stop.”

The Scottish Government has already announced all of mainland Scotland will be under the strictest Level 4 restrictions from Boxing Day.

Coronavirus in Scotland: 43 further deaths registered and 1,316 new cases

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Coronavirus in Scotland: 43 further deaths registered and 1,316 new cases

Scotland has recorded 43 deaths of Covid-19 patients and 1,316 new cases of the virus in the past 24 hours, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Nicola Sturgeon statement LIVE

Speaking about the new, faster spreading variant of Covid-19, Nicola Sturgeon said there was a “significant degree of confidence” among experts that increases the R number – the average number of people infected by each person with the virus – by as much as 0.4.

She added: “Given that the R number in Scotland is already around 1, this is obviously a very real concern.”

The First Minister said analysis suggested that in the week beginning December 9 around 14% of positive  coronavirus cases in Scotland already had a gene linked to this new strain – adding it was “not unreasonable to assume that the proportion may be higher now”.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that this was “still a significantly lower level than England, where it is thought that the new variant accounts for 36% of cases, and will be even higher in London and the South East”.

Nicola Sturgeon says the scale of increase to the R number caused by the new strain is 0.4.

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