News

People advised to limit social contact

Published: 16 Mar 2020 18:08

Those most at risk strongly advised to reduce unnecessary contact.

To slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) the general public are being asked to stay at home as much as possible and avoid unnecessary social contact.

People over 70 and those who have high risk and underlying health conditions are being strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

The advice is that people should:

  • minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings, including religious congregations and smaller gatherings such as restaurants, pubs, bars, clubs, cinemas and gyms
  • avoid using public transport as much as possible
  • work from home when possible
  • follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing

People showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should stay at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen during that period.

Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should stay at home for 14 days.

This package of necessary measures comes into force with immediate effect.

Schools will remain open for the time being, however this decision will be consistently monitored and reviewed depending on the spread of the infection. Those who cannot work from home should continue to go to work unless advised by their employer or if they display symptoms.

These measures will be kept under constant review as we try to slow down the spread of the infection.

The First Minister said:

“Life as we know it will change in the coming weeks and months, but our goal is to protect lives.

“We are facing an unprecedented situation that will require major societal change if we are to protect people, especially those most at risk and our NHS.

“The package of measures we are announcing today is based on scientific and clinical advice. While it will cause some disruption and be difficult for us all, it will help us to prepare for the virus and to protect ourselves and each other in the long run.

“We need your help to slow the spread of the infection. That is why we are advising everyone in Scotland to restrict their social contact and to stay at home as much as possible. We are strongly advising those who are over 70 or have an underlying health condition to stay at home.

“People have a vital role to play in helping us contain this infection and I urge everyone in Scotland to follow the latest health and travel advice, and follow basic hygiene precautions, such as washing hands frequently, not touching their face and covering their nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

“This has not been an easy decision but it is vital if we are to stop the spread of the infection.”

Background

For those under 70 underlying health conditions refers to all those eligible for the flu vaccine. Those who have compromised immune systems will be contacted with specific advice in the coming days.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman will update the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday 17 March on the Scottish Government’s plans to build up and scale up capacity in Scotland’s National Health Service.

Read the COVID-19 Guidance for Non-Healthcare Settings.

Further additional guidance and information, including links to guidance for travellers and the general public, can also be found on HPS’ COVID-19 page.

The latest numbers of test results are published at 2pm each day on the Scottish Government website.

Common symptoms of coronavirus include:
• fever or a temperature of above 37.8°C
• persistent cough

Updates on public health advice for coronavirus can be found on the NHS Inform website, and a free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice: 0800 028 2816.