Nicola Sturgeon Covid update RECAP: Scotland is now on the “downward slope” of infections

Nicola Sturgeon is to update MSPs on the latest Covid restrictions in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon has said she is “cautiously optimistic” about Scotland’s coronavirus situation ahead of a statement announcing any changes to restrictions.

The First Minister said the country is “in a better position than I feared we would be before Christmas”, but would not comment on whether she plans to follow Wales with a mass easing of Covid rules.

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Ms Sturgeon has chaired a Cabinet meeting this morning and will update Holyrood about the Government’s plans later in the afternoon.

You can follow updates in our live blog, right here.

Nicola Sturgeon Covid update LIVE:

Last updated: Tuesday, 18 January, 2022, 15:20

Hello and welcome to our live blog ahead of Nicola Sturgeon’s Covid update.

Nicola Sturgeon has remained tight-lipped on what she will announce to Holyrood, but said Scotland was “in a better position than I feared we would be before Christmas”.

“Looking at that data right now, we’ve got reasons to continue to be cautiously optimistic that we’re turning the corner on this Omicron wave,” she said.

“That’s because people have responded magnificently, they’ve behaved in a way that’s helped stem to some extent the transmission of Omicron and we took sensible, balanced, proportionate steps.”

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, said there is now enough data to be confident that cases have been reducing since early January.

She told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday: “I think we’ve got enough data now to see what the true picture is, and I think that the reduction in infection in the community appears genuine.”

She said the only caveat is that schools have returned recently and the full picture from this may not yet have emerged.

A decision is expected to be made on current restrictions on hospitality and leisure venues today.

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, called on the First Minister to scrap restrictions apart from mask rules.

“The Scottish Government’s own data shows that we are past the peak of Omicron.

“The latest evidence means we can now be far more optimistic,” said the party leader.

“People across Scotland have learned to live with Covid.

“The success of Scotland and the UK’s vaccine scheme means the public can now tackle Covid through their own actions, without the need for so many government restrictions.”

Douglas Ross put principle before party in calling for Boris Johnson's resignation (Picture: Peter Summers/Getty Images)

Away from Holyrood for a moment, Boris Johnson apologised for “mistakes that may have been made” over No 10 gatherings.

Asked if he was “taking the mickey” over his claim that he believed the May 20, 2020 drinks were a work event, the Prime Minister said: “I think what people need to do is wait and see what the (Sue Gray) report says.

“I repeat my deep apologies to people for mistakes that may have been made on my watch.”

On a visit to a north London hospital, he said: “I repeat my apologies for any and all misjudgments that were made, for which I take full responsibility, but I think people do need to wait and see the conclusion of the report, and I will draw the necessary consequences and conclusions but then come back to the House.”

Nicola Sturgeon will give a statement in parliament at 2pm to share the latest data available as Covid-19 cases continue to put a heavy strain on the NHS.

The latest Covid stats in Scotland

A further 31 deaths and 7,752 cases of Covid have been reported across Scotland, according to the latest Scottish Government figures.

If you are just joining us, welcome.

Here’s what we can expect today.

Nicola Sturgeon will give insight into the latest data and it is thought an update on restrictions in place for indoor events and hospitality will be updated.

We may also have an update on rules going forward and the use of vaccine passports.

Nicola Sturgeon will be updating the chamber shortly.

Scottish Labour have urged the First Minister to address issues in the NHS and provide support for small businesses.

“Just last week, we had Test and Protect staff being forced to turn to the media because their calls for further assistance had fallen on deaf ears,” deputy leader Jackie Baillie said.

“We have health boards going beyond ‘code black’ and reducing GP as well as hospital services; a staffing crisis with overworked employees at breaking point, and a social care system that is still reeling from the impact of SNP decisions at the start of the pandemic.

“This statement is the SNP’s opportunity to listen to and address the concerns of frontline NHS staff and patients.

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