Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's speech - 30 November 2020

Statement given by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh, on Monday 30 November 2020.

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Good afternoon everyone, thanks for joining us today.

I’m going to start with the usual update on today’s statistics.

Before I do that, though, I need to point out that there has been a technical issue with our reporting systems overnight, which means that today’s figures might be slightly lower than we would expect.

And of course, that means that figures over the next day or two may be a wee bit higher than usual - as it could be the case that some cases which should have been reported today, will be included in the figures for the next couple of days. So when you’re looking at the figures today and the next two days just bare that point in mind.

However, I can confirm that the total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 369.

That represents 6.1% of the total number of tests, the total number of confirmed cases overall now is 95,058.

133 of these new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 49 in Lanarkshire, and 48 in Lothian.

The remaining cases were spread across the 8 other mainland health board areas.

1,041 people are currently in hospital – that is a decrease of 8 from yesterday.

75 people are in intensive care, that is 1 fewer than yesterday.

And finally, I have the sad duty to report that 3 additional deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours of patients who first tested positive over the previous 28 days.

But again, as I do every Monday, I would draw I would draw to your attention that registration offices tend to be closed at weekends, so the figures we report for people dying on Sundays and Mondays can be artificially low as a result of that.

In total, since the media briefing that the Health Secretary led on Friday, 49 deaths have been registered.

Which means that the total number of deaths, under this daily measurement, is now 3725.

And again as it does and as it should every single day that should make us stop and think about the heartbreak this virus causes and as always my thoughts and my condolences are with families who are grieving the loss of a loved one from the virus.

Now tomorrow, I will again, as I always do every Tuesday,  update parliament on the levels of restrictions which will apply in different local authority areas. We are over the course of today continuing to assess those areas that are currently not in level 4 to see whether we think any area needs to move up a level to tighter restrictions, or on the other hand whether any could move down a level. And I will report on that in Parliament tomorrow. Remember those eleven local authorities in level 4 will remain in  level 4 until the 11th December.

For today though, there are two points I want to update on.

The first relates to a further expansion of our testing.

We are now starting to test residents in a number of communities across the country, even if they do not have symptoms of COVID. These programmes are being trialled in several communities in central and west Scotland, where rates of Covid continue to be of concern and are higher than the national average.

For example a mobile testing unit opened in Clackmannanshire, in Alloa Town Hall, on Thursday. Further sites have opened today in Dalmarnock in the east end of Glasgow and Pollokshields in the south side of Glasgow; in Stewarton in East Ayrshire; and in Girvan in South Ayrshire. 

We will also open the first site using lateral flow tests in Johnston, in Renfrewshire, on Wednesday of this week.

The lateral flow tests produce results much more quickly than the conventional PCR tests, that potentially makes them very useful.

All positive cases though that are identified through lateral flow test, can then be confirmed by a PCR test.

The testing site in each area will be open for between 3 and 13 days, depending on the location.

The work to establish the centres has been led by local partners – including of course the relevant local authorities – and I am very grateful to them for their work and assistance. The lessons that we learn from these trials will then inform our plans to expand community testing much more extensively and much more routinely early in the new year.

Of course it’s important to stress that any test will only tell you if you are positive at that point in time when you are being tested - they will not necessarily show up if you are still incubating the virus – so they don’t meant that you can or should stop following all of the other safety measures in place and they also cannot tell that even though you’re negative one day, you don’t pick up the virus after you’ve had the test and might be positive a day later, so please continue to follow all of the advice on self-isolation, if you have symptoms, distance, face covering and all of the other things we are advising people to do.

But that aside, we do hope that identifying more people who are positive, will help us ensure that they are not spreading the virus.  And that’s why we are currently focussing these trials, these pilot programmes on on areas with high prevalence.

So if you live in one of the areas, I would encourage you to come forward for testing.  You give yourself the chance of finding out if you have the virus but you don’t yet have symptoms but you are also helping that collective effort to try to break the chains of transmission and you can find out more details of course on the nhsinform website, and if you do have symptoms, remember the advice still stands wherever you live in Scotland, if you have the symptoms of COVID you should come forward for testing.

Now the second issue I want to update on, is a change to the eligibility rules for our self-isolation support grant.

You’ll recall, that is a payment of £500 for people on low incomes, who would otherwise lose out financially when they self-isolate for public health reasons when they’re advised to do that by Test & Protect for example.

So it is an important way in which the government can support people to do the right thing, as we all try to tackle COVID together.

From next Monday – that’s the 7th of December - we are making two changes to try to widen the range of people who are able claim the support grant.

So firstly, up until the 7th December, you can only get the grant if you yourself has been asked to self-isolate by Test and Protect but from next week, you will also be able to claim the grant, if you meet the other eligibility requirements if one of your children has to self-isolate from school or nursery, and that means that you are no longer able to work for that period.

The second change we are making relates to the fact that you can currently only receive the grant if you receive universal credit.

But again from next week, you will also now be eligible – even if you do not get universal credit – if your local authority believes that you would qualify for it if you applied.

So that change will help more people to get the grant as quickly as possible, and hopefully reduce the chances of people missing out on it.

These extensions to self-isolation support are important, because self-isolation is so important.

As I said a moment ago if you have symptoms of COVID, you should self-isolate immediately and take steps to get tested and if the test shows that you have COVID, you should self-isolate for ten days from the date of the test.

If you are a contact of someone with COVID, you’ll be advised to self-isolate for 14 days, and you will be told by Test & Protect what the starting point is for that time period and therefore what the end point is after fourteen days.

Now, as I have mentioned, children will sometimes be contacts, and will sometimes therefore be advised to self-isolate. 

Self-isolation is a crucial way in which we can stop people who have the virus - or who might have the virus, but aren’t yet infectious – from going out and about and transmitting it to other others.

So it’s an important contribution that we all might need to make, at some time, and it’s important that when we are advised to do so, we follow that advice.

But we re recognise that self-isolation for a period of ten or fourteen days is a really tough thing to be asking people to do.

And particularly tough for people on low incomes – who might not be able to or be less able to work from home, and less be likely to have access to statutory sick pay.

And we do not want anybody to feel that they are having to choose between self-isolating, and feeding themselves and their families.

So I hope today’s expansion of the support grant will help more people to do the right thing -  if they are, or if their children are asked to self-isolate.

Now I've spoken today about testing and self-isolation, there are two really important ways of trying to reduce transmission.

However I will close, as I always do, by summarising the other key rules and guidance which she should all follow right now, to try to keep ourselves safe and reduce  the risks of transmission.

And remember if you are in any doubt about what level your own area is in and what the rules are that apply in the area you live, you can go on to the Scottish Government website and enter your postcode and you will get the information there.

But in summary, you should not be visiting other people’s houses right now unless you live on the islands, unless you’ve got an essential reason for doing that and if you meet people outdoors keep to the limit of six people from a maximum of two households.

Please abide by the travel restrictions which are really important right now to stop the virus spreading from high to low prevalence areas.

Avoid car-sharing if you can.

Work from home if at all possible.

Download the Protect Scotland app.

And finally, remember FACTS – which are the basic not easy but basic things we can all do, to try stop the virus spreading, so:

  • remember face coverings
  • remember to avoid crowded places
  • remember to clean your hands and clean hard surfaces
  • remember to keep a two metres distance from people from other households
  • and as I’ve already said a couple of times already today remember to self-isolate, and get tested, if you have symptoms.

So thank you very much for listening.

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