Publication - Speech/statement

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's statement - 22 January 2021

Published: 22 Jan 2021

Statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh on Friday 22 January 2021.

Published:
22 Jan 2021
Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's statement - 22 January 2021

I will give you first of all the usual daily statistics report.

1,480 cases were reported yesterday as positive.

That represents 6.9% of the total number of tests carried out and takes the total number of confirmed cases is now 169,699.

Today’s new cases 427 of them were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 273 in Lanarkshire, and 166 in Lothian.

The remaining cases were spread across the 11 other health board areas.

I can also tell you that by 8.30 this morning, 358,454 people had received their first dose of the vaccine.

In addition, I can report today that 2053 people are currently in hospital – that is 49 more than yesterday.

And 161 people are in intensive care, that figure is unchanged from yesterday.

And I’m also extremely sorry to report that 71 additional deaths were registered in the last 24 hours, of a patient who had first tested positive in the previous 28 day period.

That means that the total number of deaths, under the daily measurement, is now 5,628.

And as it always is that figure is a really sharp reminder of just how devastating this virus can be for some of those who get it and of course for the families effected and I want again today to say to every family who is in this position that our thoughts are very much with you.

I am joined today by the Chief Nursing Officer – who will be helping me to answer questions shortly.

Before that, there are three issues I want to cover.

The first is about some extra support that we’re providing to our health and social care workforce.

Throughout the pandemic, I think everyone would agree with this, our health and care workers have done a truly outstanding job – in the most difficult and stressful of circumstances that it is possible to imagine. And of course the stress that they face the pressure they face can be seen in the figures that I am reporting everyday right now. It is severe and it is acute. I am hugely grateful to each and every one of them and I am very confident that I say that on behalf of literally every person across the country.

We have done what we can to support the well-being of health and social care staff, as they’ve carried out their work.

In May, we launched a National Wellbeing Hub – which is there to provide online support for health and care workers, and their families. 

We’ve also established a 24/7 wellbeing helpline, again dedicated to health and care staff. 

Today, I am announcing a further measure – which will give staff I hope a little bit extra practical support.

We are allocating an additional £500,000 to Health Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships.  That money will be available  to help address issues which have been raised directly by health and social care workers.

For example, some of it could be used to help provide workers with free hot drinks and snacks when they are on shift. And I know that probably sounds like quite a small thing – and in some ways it is – but it has been flagged up to us as being important in helping workers to rest and recover during the break times that they get during shifts.

And, of course sometimes, in all walks of life, it can be the little things that help quite a lot. I’m flagging this up today just as a way of underlining how much we owe our health and care workers but also as an example of what we’re trying to do to support them in practical ways, while they continue to perform such an incredible service for all of us. I don’t think we’ll ever be able to repay those on the frontline of health and social care for everything they have done and everything they have suffered over the duration of this pandemic. But in every way we can it is important to support them and to show our gratitude.

The second issue I want to refer to in part relates to the economic impact of Covid. Many families right now are struggling to make ends meet because of disruption to jobs – many will have lost jobs and this is a difficult time financially and economically for many.

What we know is that, that difficulty that people will have been facing is increasing and the further measures during this lockdown will have increased that further.

So today, I want to highlight an additional source of support that will soon be available to many parents and carers.  It’s something that was planned before the pandemic so it’s not as a result of the pandemic but I think the importance of it is even greater given what everybody is living through right now. And of course I am referring to the new Scottish Child Payment.

The Scottish Child Payment is designed to help families who are struggling financially.

Those on the lowest incomes.

You’re eligible for it, if you receive certain tax credits and benefits.  And, it will be worth an additional £40 – every four weeks – initially it is payable for every child under the age of six. In the fullness of time we’ll roll it out to all children but in the initial stages it is available for children under 6.

To date, since applications opened we’ve received 63,000 applications for the new payment. The reason why I am flagging it up today is to hopefully reach anybody who might be eligible who hasn’t yet applied because if you apply in good time, you can ensure that your payments are calculated from the start date – which is the 15th February. 

So if you want to find more – perhaps you want to check if you might be eligible or if you already know you are eligible and want to apply because you haven’t already done so – you can go to the website mygov.scot/benefits.  Or you can call this number 0800 182 2222.  That’s 0800 182 2222.  

We believe that the Scottish Child Payment will be a game-changer, in the fight against child poverty.  That’s something that campaigners against child poverty have also said and in the coming weeks, we hope it will help provide families who have been hardest hit by the pandemic, with some much-needed extra financial support. 

Now the final issue I want to cover today is in relation to one of the very few settings where people right now will inevitably still be coming into contact with each other.  And of course that’s food retail premises. Supermarkets for example.

Throughout the pandemic, food retailers – and food retail staff – have gone to great lengths, to keep their shelves stocked, and to keep customers as safe as possible. And I want to take this opportunity to thank all of them and indeed everyone working in our food industry for helping to keep the country going. It is much appreciated. But I know those who work in supermarkets and other essential retail outlets are having to go to work every day. It’s not an easy time for you so if you are one of them or if you know somebody who is in that category please then convey my thanks to them. 

Shopping for food is right now one of the few reasons why we should be leaving our homes, right now. But it’s important to remember that, just like any other reason that we leave home, it is not risk free. 

The new variant of the virus is spreading faster and more easily.  It is all the more important that – when we do go to a shop right now, as is essential – we do take the necessary precautions. And we are really rigorous in taking those precautions.

So I want to take a moment today, to set out some of the key points that will help all of us to stay safe, when we are shopping. And many of these points people send in emails to me if they perceive that these things are not always being followed when they are out shopping. So it is a moment just to remind people of all the things you should be doing to keep yourself and others safe if you are going to a supermarket, a butchers, a bakers shop or even just your local corner shop.

Firstly, try to limit the number of times that you go shopping, right now. So if you in normal times went shopping two or three times a week see if you limit that to just once a week just now. Where possible, order online.

If you do go to a shop, and it’s busy – don’t go in, try somewhere else, or decide to go back at a less busy time. 

Shop alone, if you can. That’s a really important piece of advice. Don’t go with other people. If that’s not possible, if you need help to do your shopping then try to make sure to keep the group you are with as small as possible.  Bear in mind that some retailers are now actually promoting a “one shopper, one trolley” policy – in order to reduce the time spent in shops.

Sanitise your hands when you’re going in and leaving a supermarket.  Most premises will have sanitizing stations – at entrances, checkouts and exits.

Remember to maintain 2 metre distance at all times. I know how difficult that is, particularly when you are trying to get your shopping from the shelves but if there are people standing in front of you or in front of items that you want – don’t lean over them to try to reach those items. And when you’re queuing, try to remember to keep 2 metres distance from the person in front of you or the person who might be behind you.

Be patient if you have to wait a bit longer

Show consideration for shop staff, and for other customers.

And at all times, follow the FACTS guidance. That includes, of course, wearing a face covering. 

Unless you are exempt for a specific reason, face coverings must be worn in all food retail premises.  And remember, your face covering should be over your mouth and your nose. That’s really vital to make sure it is giving you the protection that it is designed to do but also that it’s giving the people around you maximum protection as well..

All of these rules and guidelines are really difficult to follow, they are a real pain in the neck for everybody but they are really, really important.  So I would urge everyone to follow them.

If we do so, we can make the shopping a safer experience and help our food retailers, as they carry out their essential work. And it is another way, that we can all act to keep each other safe. I think everybody is trying really hard right now or the vast majority of people are trying really hard, the vast majority of people are abiding by all of the rules and regulations and I can’t ever tell you how grateful I am to everybody for that. But I think all of us know that occasionally we need to remind ourselves when we are out and about doing essential things of the things that help to keep us safe and given that food shopping is one of the reasons why many of us, maybe the only reason why some people are out of their house right now it is an area where we need to be particularly careful.

Those are the main issues I wanted to cover today.  

But before I close, let me just remind everyone that we should all be staying at home as far as possible right now. Only leave home for essential purposes – essential shopping as I have just been talking about, if you’ve got caring responsibilities, for  exercise and fresh air. If you need to do work that can’t be done at home.

If you are meeting up with others outdoors, that should only be with one other person from one other household. So if you are mixing households it should be no more than 2 people in any mixed household group.

Work from home if you can as I have said.

And remember the FACTS advice.

  • wear face coverings when you are doing essential shopping;
  • avoid places that are busy;
  • clean hands and surfaces;
  • use two metre distancing
  • and self-isolate and book a test if you have symptoms.

All of these things are important for any occasions when we need to be out right now.  But the most important thing all of us can try and do as much as possible is stay at home.

So I will leave you with that over-arching advice that we are giving everybody right now. Stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.