Coronavirus deaths in Scotland rise to 172 as Sturgeon warns peak still to come

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First minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned the coronavirus peak is still some time away as she announced the number of deaths in Scotland has risen to 172.

The Covid-19 death toll is an increase of 46 on the previous day, while 3,001 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland – up from 2,602 on Thursday.

There are 176 people are in intensive care with the disease or expected to have it, a rise of 14.

Sturgeon said: “I want to be very clear that nothing I have seen gives me any basis whatsoever for predicting the virus will peak as early as a week’s time here in Scotland.”

She said Scottish Government’s targets on testing are proportionally equal to what is being done in the rest of UK, although the expansion to allow 3,500 tests per day in Scotland is slightly higher proportionally.

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UK health secretary Matt Hancock said they plan to carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day in England by the end of April.

The Scottish government is looking at how antibody testing  – which can tell if a person has previously had the virus – can move Scotland out of lockdown, although the test does not currently exist in a “reliable form”, Sturgeon added.

A testing oversight group has been set up by the Scottish government, she announced, which has been tasked with monitoring the provision of tests for the disease.

The group will be responsible for the increase in capacity of the labs in Scotland, along with the Scottish side of the delivery of the UK initiative to allow “non-NHS testing”.

Sturgeon also announced that vulnerable people who are “shielding” from the virus for 12 weeks will be able to receive deliveries of food and other essential items through a text messaging service.

She said 8,000 people had already signed up for the initiative and encouraged more to register.

The First Minister said childcare services would remain open during what would have been the Easter holidays.

The provisions may be different than during term time, she said, but she assured key workers that children would be looked after throughout the holiday period.

“This will be a holiday period unlike any we’ve had in our lifetimes,” the First Minister said.

Coronavirus
Dr Catherine Calderwood said she is unable to give a clear date of when the peak of the virus is likely to be (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also stressed that people should stick to the lockdown measures.

She said: “I have not been able to find that the peak will be as soon as we’re hearing in the media today.

“We have always said that many months will be needed before we can get on top of this virus and be sure that we’re not going to have a worse scenario later.”

She added: “At the moment we will not be able to give a clear date of when the peak will be.

“What we will look for first is a slowing of the rate of people testing positive and we are not seeing that yet.”

Calderwood also said it was looking less likely summer holidays will take place this year as they have done previously.

She said: “What we are already seeing in some countries across the world is that when measures are lifted, the cases jump up almost immediately.

“I would not be thinking that summer holidays are likely to be as they were in the past but we really don’t know.”

Also speaking at the briefing, health secretary Jeane Freeman said there are 500 ventilators across the NHS in Scotland.

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