Nicola Sturgeon indicates shift in restrictions approach to Covid-19 cases

Nicola Sturgeon has indicated the Scottish Government may change how it approaches rising case numbers of Covid-19 as part of a potential move away from a “maximum suppression” strategy.

The First Minister, speaking at a Covid-19 briefing, said case numbers in Glasgow appeared to have stabilised over the weekend. But she confirmed case numbers overall were rising and test positivity was “creeping up”.

The SNP leader said, however, that case numbers alone were no longer a good barometer of whether a region should consider harsher measures due to a potential drop in the number of hospitalisations and intensive care admissions due to the progress of the vaccination programme.

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Indicating the Scottish Government may move away from a policy of “maximum suppression”, Ms Sturgeon said the signs were good that vaccination may be lowering the risk of high case numbers necessarily leading to high numbers of hospitalisations and death figures.

Nicola Sturgeon has suggested the Scottish Government's response to Covid-19 may change in the coming months.

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The First Minister said the traditional response to Covid-19 case numbers rising of strict lockdowns and restrictions on hospitality and other activities may not need a reaction “quite so aggressively”.

She said: “Increasingly we are monitoring whether and to what extent vaccination might be breaking that link between rise in case numbers and significantly rising cases of serious illness and death.

"if that does prove to be the case and we hope that it will, we hope that our response to this virus can increasingly evolve as well.

"While care will still be needed because there will always be people who require hospital treatment, it might mean that we don’t have to react quite so aggressively with tough restrictions in the face of rising case numbers.

"Instead we hope that we will be able to rely on enhanced public health interventions like testing and vaccination and, of course, on good public health practices on behalf of the public.

"This will be a key factor in our decision-making in the coming days and indeed beyond that both in relation to Glasgow, but also in relation to the country more generally.”

Pushed on whether this meant the Scottish Government now favoured a policy of living with the virus rather than driving it to its lowest possible level, the First Minister said that Scotland was at a point of transition.

She said: "I still think it is really important, taking everything into account, we try to keep case rates as low as possible because the lower they are they less chance of transmission, the less chance of new variants developing, so that is important.

"But vaccination changes the game in some respects from last summer in how you deal with this.

"There’s got to be a point to us having a mass population-wide vaccination programme and that is it does allow us to change how we deal with this virus and deal with it in a way that has much less restriction on our day-to-day lives.

“We are in the position right now, we’re almost at what I would describe at a bit of a transition from how we were dealing with it to how we hope to be able to deal with it because we don’t yet know or understand the impact of vaccination as much as we want to, but I hope we can migrate to that.

"Moving to a situation where we do get our normal life and operation of our country back to something much closer to what we all want it to be like.”

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