Nicola Sturgeon says coronavirus 'in retreat'

Nicola Sturgeon has said coronavirus is “in retreat” in Scotland as she revealed there have been no new deaths from the disease for a second day in a row.

Speaking at her daily media briefing in Edinburgh on Monday, the First Minister said Scotland could move into phase two of the routemap out of lockdown on 18 June.

Ms Sturgeon said 2,415 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 have died - no change on the previous day's total.

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She welcomed the “very encouraging” figures but also struck a note of caution, warning the virus could still "roar back with a vengeance" and told the most vulnerable Scots, who are in shielding, that the time frame for this is being extended.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

Those at great risk of serious harm from coronavirus had been told to shield until June 18, with this now extended until the end of July.

But the First Minister said people in the shielded category can leave their home for daily exercise from Thursday June 18, provided they do not live in care homes.

They are still being advised not to meet up with other people from different households.

Ms Sturgeon stressed that “sticking with this for a bit longer really does matter”.

She added the “painful but necessary sacrifices” people have made since lockdown was imposed “have brought us to where we are today with this virus in retreat”.

The First Minister added the disease is “in retreat but not gone and still posing a real risk, especially to the most clinically vulnerable”.

She said: “This is such a crucial juncture in our battle against this virus.

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“We will either keep going, keep beating it back, as we are now, or we will give it the chance to roar back with a vengeance. We must, must do the former.”

A total of 15,639 people have now tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland, up 18 from 15,621 the day before.

There are 1,042 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of 40 from the previous day, and 24 patients are in intensive care, a decrease of one.

The First Minister said a second consecutive day with no new deaths is “very encouraging”, adding: “I can't tell you how long I have waited to be able to report such a development.”

But the First Minister said more deaths from the virus are likely to be reported in the coming days.

Nevertheless, she said she is “optimistic” at the next review of restrictions on June 18 that Scotland will be “able to move, at least in part into the next phase of our route map out of lockdown with more individual freedoms restored and more businesses able to open up and operate again”.

Moving into phase two could allow households to meet indoors, while pubs and restaurants could open outdoor spaces and marriages and civil partnerships could take place with minimal number of attendees.

Smaller stores may also be able to reopen for business then, with physical distancing and hygiene measures in place.

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The Scottish Government’s four phases for easing lockdown restrictions:

Phase 1: Virus not yet contained but cases are falling. From 28 May you should be able to meet another household outside in small numbers. Sunbathing is allowed, along with some outdoor activities like golf and fishing. Garden centres and drive-through takeaways can reopen, some outdoor work can resume, and childminding services can begin.

Phase 2: Virus controlled. You can meet larger groups outdoors, and meet another household indoors. Construction, factories, warehouses, laboratories and small shops can resume work. Playgrounds and sports courts can reopen, and professional sport can begin again.

Phase 3: Virus suppressed. You can meet people from more than one household indoors. Non-essential offices would reopen, along with gyms, museums, libraries, cinemas, larger shops, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and dentists. Live events could take place with restricted numbers and physical distancing restrictions. Schools should reopen from 11 August.

Phase 4: Virus no longer a significant threat. University and college campuses can reopen in full, mass gatherings are allowed. All workplaces open and public transport is back at full capacity.

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