Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Deputy First Minister's speech Thursday 21 January 2021

Statement given by the Deputy First Minister John Swinney at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh.

Good afternoon and thank you once again for joining us today.

I will start with the usual update on today’s statistics.

The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 1,636.

That represents 7% of the total number of tests, and takes the total number of confirmed cases in Scotland to 168,219.

510 of today’s new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 328 in Lanarkshire, and 182 in Lothian.

The remaining cases were spread across 10 other health board areas.

I can also confirm that by 8.30 this morning, 334,871 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

We remain on track to give a first dose of the vaccine to all people who are over 70 by the middle of February. And we are launching a new campaign today – the “roll your sleeves up” campaign – which is designed to maximise uptake of the vaccine, by encouraging everyone to get their first dose as soon as they are contacted and asked to do so.

To return to the daily figures, 2004 people are currently in hospital – that is 1 more than yesterday.

161 people are in intensive care, which is an increase of 5 from yesterday.

And I regret to say that 89 additional deaths have been registered in the last 24 hours, of a patient who first tested positive over the previous 28 days.

That means that the total number of deaths, under this daily measurement, is now 5,557.

That total is a stark reminder once again of the grief and heartbreak that the virus continues to cause.

I want to send my sympathies and condolences to all those who have lost a loved one during this pandemic.

I am joined today by Professor Jason Leitch, the National Clinical Director, who will help me to answer questions.

Before then, I have three points that I want to briefly update you on.

The first is that the Scottish Government will publish later today the latest estimate for the R number in Scotland.

That will show that the R number may now be around 1, and has probably fallen during the last week.

That assessment provides some further evidence that our measures are – at the very least – helping to stabilize case numbers. However – as the numbers I have just read out demonstrate - they remain concerning high.

The second point I want to raise is about support for childminders – who are such a vital and valued part of our childcare sector.

Many childminders have been affected by the pandemic, and by the restrictions placed upon them – and some have expressed concern about the future sustainability of their businesses.

The Scottish Government today is therefore publishing a series of actions that will support the childminding sector in the future.

And we are also making more immediate help available. We have set aside up to £1 million to support childminders who have been financially affected by the pandemic.

We are currently working with the Scottish Childminding Association to finalise details of the support scheme - so further information on how to apply will be published soon.

However the scheme will enable childminders to apply for grants of up to £1000 each.

Childminders play a hugely important role – and the work they do is, I know, valued and appreciated by families across the country.

This new fund will provide them with some of the support they need, in order to continue to carry out that role. That’s something that will be increasingly important as we emerge from lockdown, and as more parents return to work.

The final issue I want to cover relates to testing.

Walk-in test centres are a valuable part of our wider testing programme, since they help to increase the accessibility of testing – especially for people who do not have access to a car.

I am therefore pleased that three new walk-in test centres open this week.

A walk-in centre opened in Paisley, at Bridge Street Car Park, on Tuesday. And sites open in Dunfermline and Glenrothes later today. All three sites are in or near the centre of their towns.

Each of the new centres will be able to carry out up to 300 tests a day. And they increase the total number of walk-in centres in Scotland, to 28.

Together with the other strands of Scotland’s testing programme, therefore, they will help to improve the accessibility and effectiveness of testing. We are working with NHS National Services Scotland, local authorities and health boards to establish more local testing centres in the weeks to come.

Testing is a very important way of keeping the virus under control.

We have also in the last week tightened travel restrictions, and we are of course accelerating the vaccination programme.

However at the moment – while case numbers remain so high – our lockdown restrictions continue to be vital. They are the single most important way in which we can reduce case numbers, and ease some of the pressure on our health and social care services.

I will finish, therefore, by reminding you once again of our key rules and guidelines.

Our main rule at the moment continues to be a very simple one – stay at home.

In any level 4 area – which is almost all of Scotland, including all of the mainland - you must only leave the house for essential purposes: such as caring responsibilities, essential shopping, and exercise.

So please do that – and please stick to the spirit of the rules, as well as to the letter.

Don’t think about doing as much as you can get away with. Think instead about how you can reduce the number of times you go out and about.

If you meet up with someone outdoors, you can only meet with one other person from one other household.

You must work from home if you possibly can – and employers have a legal duty to support people to work from home.

And on any occasion when you do leave the house, please remember FACTS.

• wear face coverings when you are doing essential shopping;
• avoid anywhere busy;
• clean hands and surfaces;
• use two metre distancing if you are talking to someone from another household
• and self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.

Above all else, though, please stay at home as much as is possible.

Staying at home is the best way of keeping ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe – and of keeping the virus under control, while the vaccination programme continues.

So please - stay at home, protect the National Health Service and save lives.

Thank you, once again, to everyone who is doing exactly that.



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