Scotland records highest number of daily coronavirus cases in almost three months

20 August 2020, 12:44

File photo: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
File photo: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Picture: PA

By Megan White

Scotland has recorded its highest number of daily coronavirus cases in almost three months, Nicola Sturgeon said.

Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily briefing, the First Minister said 19,534 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 77 from 19,457 the day before.

No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in the last 24 hours, she said.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs Scotland would remain in phase three of her four-part plan for easing lockdown restrictions.

The First Minister told MSPs: "I am not able to indicate, today, a move from phase three of our route map out of lockdown to phase four.

"We will remain, for now, in phase three and I must give notice today that this may well be the case beyond the next review point too."

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For Scotland to move into phase four she said ministers would have to be satisfied that "the virus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health".

And she said the latest figures showed that "this is definitely not the case".

A total of 2,492 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for Covid-19.

There are 249 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of one in 24 hours.

Of these patients, two were in intensive care, no change from the previous day.

The First Minister said the most recent estimate was that the R number in Scotland - the number of people infected on average by each person with he disease - "could currently be above one".

Local lockdown restrictions are in place in Aberdeen, and with the authorities dealing with a "significant cluster in Coupar Angus" linked to the Two Sisters food plant, the First Minister said ministers were "considering carefully and urgently whether further restrictions are necessary".

Despite concerns about coronavirus clusters, she said reopenings pencilled in for August 24 could proceed.

As a result she said that some outdoor live events - with physical distancing, enhanced hygiene and restricted numbers in place - could go ahead from this date.

Ms Sturgeon added: "Organised outdoor contact sports will also resume for people of all ages. However for outdoor coaching sessions, there will be a cap of 30 on the total number of people who can be coached at any one time.

"Driving lessons will resume.

"And indoor face to face advice services - for example Citizens Advice - can also open to provide financial advice when necessary."

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For premises such as bingo halls, Ms Sturgeon stressed it was "of the utmost importance that guidance is strictly adhered to" - saying minsters will be monitoring this carefully.

She also announced the reopening of gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts was being brought forward.

The First Minister stated: "Three weeks ago, I indicated that they could reopen from September 14 but I also said that we would consider if that date could safely be brought forward - especially given the wider physical and mental health benefits of access to these facilities.

"Having done so, I am now able to confirm that those facilities can reopen - subject to guidance being in place - from August 31."

She said these were the only changes to lockdown restrictions she was able to announce today.

"We hope that further changes will be possible from Monday September 14, in line with what is currently set out in our route map," she added.

"However, I must stress these possible changes are at this stage indicative only.

"And given the volatility we face in transmission of the virus, there is a very real possibility that these plans will change."

Speaking about changes that could come in later, Ms Sturgeon said it was hoped sports stadiums could open from September 14 "though only for limited numbers of spectators and with strict physical distancing in place."

She added: "Some professional sports events may be arranged for spectators before then - with Scottish Government agreement - to test the safety of any new arrangements."

It is also hoped indoor contact sports activities can resume for people aged 12 and over from the same date.

Entertainment sites and cultural venues - such as theatres and live music venues - could be able to reopen then too - again with strict physical distancing in place.

"To facilitate that, these venues can open for preparation and rehearsals from August 24," the First Minister said.

She added: "Finally, we hope that from September 14 wedding and civil partnership receptions and funeral wakes will be able to take place with more attendees than at present, although numbers will remain restricted.

"We intend to set out more detail on this, including on permitted numbers, shortly."