Rise in cases may ‘put brakes’ on lockdown easing

A rise in coronavirus cases could see the Scottish government “put the brakes” on further changes to lockdown restrictions, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

A total of 146 new cases of the virus were reported on Monday.

The first minister said the continued rise must be taken “really seriously”.

The restrictions will be reviewed on Thursday, but Ms Sturgeon said it was unlikely Scotland would move to the next phase in her government’s route map out of lockdown.

And she said a “resurgence” of cases could see restrictions being re-imposed.

An average of 152 positive tests have been recorded each day over the past week – compared to 14 per day six weeks ago.

However, this has not yet resulted in a spike in hospital admissions, with 256 people currently being treated for Covid-19.

  • Live: Latest on coronavirus in Scotland

Ms Sturgeon said there was a “very definite trend” of increasing case numbers over recent weeks.

More than 200 cases were recorded on Sunday – the highest number since May – with a particular increase in the Greater Glasgow area, where fresh restrictions on household visits has been imposed.

The new cases reported on Monday represented 2.4% of people tested, having regularly been below 1% two weeks ago.

The first minister said the figures should not come as a surprise and had echoed the way cases had increased in other countries as they reopened.

She said the virus currently seemed to be spreading among younger people, who were “less likely” to become seriously ill, and that this may be why hospital admissions have not risen as sharply.

However, Ms Sturgeon said this context “cannot and really must not be a source of complacency”.

She said the virus can still be a “really nasty disease” for young people, and that it will “eventually seep into older and more vulnerable groups”.

‘Significant threat’

Ms Sturgeon will reveal the outcome of the next review of lockdown measures at Holyrood on Thursday.

She said Scotland would not move to phase four of the “route map” until the virus “is no longer considered a significant threat to public health”.

And she warned: “It may be that we have to put the brakes on some further changes too”.

The government had previously indicated that from 14 September, soft play areas and entertainment venues such as theatres and music venues could reopen, along with a limited reopening of stadiums.

The first minister added: “The current situation in Greater Glasgow and Clyde is a reminder that if we see a resurgence in cases then restrictions may have to be re-imposed rather than being relaxed.”

Later this week the Scottish government will roll out a coronavirus contact tracing app, which will help track down people who have been in close proximity to those who test positive.

Ms Sturgeon said everyone would be encouraged to download the Protect Scotland app, stressing that it does not track people’s location and that “your data is not passed on and remains private and confidential”.

She said downloading the app was “a small but really important individual step we can take for our collective wellbeing”.

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  • LOCKDOWN EASING: What changes next – and when?
  • Coronavirus pandemic
  • Nicola Sturgeon

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