Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's speech 6 August 2020

Statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh on Thursday 6 August.

Good afternoon, and thank you for joining us.

I want to start with the usual update on the Covid-19 statistics for Scotland.

An additional 67 positive cases were confirmed yesterday. That is 1.2% of the people who were newly tested yesterday, and it takes the total number of cases in Scotland to 18,847.

Just as point of clarity, today’s 67 cases is actually a net increase of 66, as one of yesterday’s cases has since been denotified.

A full health board breakdown will be available later, as usual, but the provisional information I have is that 39 of the 67 cases are in the Grampian health board area. It is not yet clear how many are connected to the ongoing outbreak in Aberdeen and I will say a bit more about that outbreak shortly.

A further 17 are in Greater Glasgow & Clyde and we are examining these very carefully to see if there are any patterns - there was a relatively large number in Glasgow yesterday - to see if there is any cause for concern. 

A total of 270 patients are currently in hospital who have been confirmed as having the virus. That is an increase of 3 since yesterday.

A total of 4 people last night were in intensive care with confirmed Covid-19. That is an increase of 1 since yesterday.

I am glad to say that yet again during the last 24 hours, no deaths were registered of a patient confirmed through a test in the previous 28 days as having Covid-19.  The total number of deaths, under this particular measure, therefore remains 2,491.

However the total number of deaths is still a reminder of the awful impact of this virus. I want to extend my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one.

We will also today publish updated information about the prevalence of the virus in Scotland.

Our modelling suggests that the R number – the average number of people infected by one other infectious person – is between 0.6 and 1.  That is a slight increase on the last estimate, which was 0.6 and 0.9.  However, as I’ve said before, the R number becomes a less reliable indicator when the prevalence of the virus remains very low. 

The modelling also shows that the number of people in Scotland with the virus has continued to fall. Our central estimate for last week is that 275 people in Scotland were infectious.

These figures show – once again – the sustained progress that we’ve made, over the past few months. And I want to thank everybody who has contributed to that. 

I particularly want to thank our health and care workers – who continue to do an incredible job.

However, I want to warn again against any complacency.

We have seen an increase in cases in recent days that may not yet be reflected in this modelling - many of these cases, but not all, are linked to outbreaks such as the one in Aberdeen and the one in Inverclyde last week. But it's important to say that not all of these cases are linked to outbreaks, so we really must be on our guard and recognise what these figures are telling us, which is that this virus is still very much out there and circulating in Scotland. 

I now want to provide an update on the situation in Aberdeen, and you will appreciate that this is an active outbreak that is being managed and this information will be changing regularly at the moment. 

I can confirm that – as of now – a total of 79 cases have been confirmed as associated with that cluster.  That is an increase of 25 on the position reported yesterday. A further 30 cases are under investigation as possibly linked to the outbreak. And a total of 233 close contacts have already been identified, although we expect that number to rise over the course of today.

As I said yesterday, many of those positive cases and contacts have been linked to a number of licensed premises, in Aberdeen.  And a list of those places is now available on the Scottish Government’s website.

To be clear, it’s not that one particular person in this cluster has visited all these premises.  It is that someone who has tested positive has been in each location, but it will be different people in each of these locations.

Now, we’ve been asked why members of the public who have visited these premises have not all been contact traced.  The answer is that they may not have been there at the same time as a person who has tested positive - or they might not have come within 2 metres of them for the requisite period.  Contact Tracers are professionals, they are highly trained experts at what they do and they assess who should be traced.

However, if you have been to any of these premises, even if Test and Protect hasn't been in touch with you, we are still asking you to be extra vigilant for symptoms – and to follow the FACTS at all times.

And if you are contacted by Test and Protect in Aberdeen, please comply with their advice. In fact, if you are contacted by Test and Protect anywhere in Scotland, I appeal to you to please comply fully with their advice, particularly, in relation to self-isolation. If they advise you are a close contact and that you must self isolate for 14 days it is absolutely essential that you do that and for the full 14 days.

The further growth of this cluster which I’ve reported today –  and I expect to be standing here tomorrow reporting a growth beyond the numbers today - is a reminder of how easily this virus can spread.  It also underlines why we needed to take decisive action, to keep it under control.

Today is – of course – the first full day that the restrictions in Aberdeen have been in place.  So I want take this opportunity to set out – again – what the restrictions are.  However, I should say that guidance – on all of this – is available on the Scottish Government’s website. 

Firstly, we are advising people in Aberdeen not to travel more than 5 miles for leisure or recreational purposes.  That does not apply, however, if you’re travelling for work, education or medical treatment. 

One of the questions we’ve been asked about is holidays.  And our advice to people in Aberdeen is that you should not be going on holiday right now – either to other parts of Scotland, or other parts of the UK.  And as those of you who watch these briefings regularly will know, we advise against overseas holidays in general at the moment for people right across Scotland.

We’re also advising people outside of Aberdeen, not to travel to the city for leisure purposes – or to visit friends and family. 

Some people in Aberdeenshire have asked if they can travel into the city for work.  The answer is yes, you can - but please follow all guidance. But you should not be travelling into Aberdeen from Aberdeenshire for leisure or recreational purposes or to visit family.

If you are currently visiting Aberdeen, you can stay – but again, please follow all of the guidance while you are there.  And take extra care when you return home.

Secondly, we are advising that people in Aberdeen should not go into each other’s houses.  Extended household groups are not included in that - but the restriction applies to everyone else. 

There are also new restrictions on indoor visits to hospitals in Aberdeen – with only essential visits permitted. And care home visiting remains restricted to outdoor visits only, in line with the current guidance. 

Finally, we have put in place regulations, which require all indoor and outdoor hospitality in the city to close. So all bars, restaurants, cafes, and pubs must now be closed. They were required to close by 5pm yesterday.

Takeaway services in Aberdeen can continue.  And hotel restaurants can continue to provide food for residents.  But hotel bars must also close. 

Now, everything I’ve seen – so far – suggests that businesses are complying the regulations.  And I want thank all of them, for their help and cooperation.

In fact, I want to thank everyone in Aberdeen for being so understand of why this action is necessary and for sticking to the new guidance.  I know how tough that will be, it's a blow to the city and all of us regret that we’ve had to take this decision.

But, I believe people do know why it is necessary. 

There are just too many uncertainties about this outbreak, right now.  So we were not able to be confident that we could keep it under control without these additional measures.

Allowing this virus to run free is not an option - at any time, in my view, given how dangerous it is - but particularly as we prepare for the reopening of schools from next week.

We have therefore taken a precautionary approach. For the moment, it means that one part of the country has had to go into reverse. But ultimately, we hope it will allow all of Scotland to continue the progress that we’ve achieved over these past months. 

But of course, it’s not just people in Aberdeen who have a part to play here.  All of us must be on our guard – now more than ever.

The further we get from lockdown, the more opportunities there are for the virus to spread. As i said before - when we locked ourselves down we locked it down too, so when we let ourselves out, we let it out as well. So as we come out of lockdown we all need to be extra careful – in everything that we do.

We - all of us - are the first line of defence against this virus. But we are only as strong as our weakest link.

Every time one us forgets to follow the advice, we risk letting the virus slip through our defence.

And as soon as that happens, we are fire fighting as we see in Aberdeen right now. Test and Protect is doing a fantastic job in Aberdeen but we all have a responsibility to ensure those fires don't start in the first place.

So we must all recognise our individual responsibility to the overall wellbeing of the country.

Any time we fail to abide by the health guidance, we give Covid-19 an opportunity to come back.  And as we see from Aberdeen – this virus will take any opportunity it can get. One of the things we know about Covid-19 is that it is infectious. 

That’s why it’s so vital to follow the 5 rules golden rules of the FACTS campaign. 

  • F - you must wear them in enclosed spaces such as shops and public transport.
  • A - Avoid crowded places.
  • C - Clean your hands and hard surfaces regularly.
  • T - Two metre distancing remains the rule.
  • and S - Self isolate, and book a test, if you have symptoms.

By complying with these rules we can continue to play our part in suppressing this virus.  We are also giving Test and Protect the best chance to deal with the outbreaks when they do occur, as they inevitably will on some occasions and of course we are protecting our front line health and social care staff as well.

My very strong encouragement and my plea to everyone is to please follow all of these rules. 

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