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I will start with an update on the key statistics.
The total number of cases now stands at 200,406.
There are currently 967 people in hospital with Covid, which is 51 fewer than yesterday.
In addition, 89 people are in intensive care, which is 4 fewer than yesterday.
I also regret to report that, in the last 24 hours, a further 31 deaths were registered of patients who had first tested positive in the previous 28 days.
The total number of people who have died under that daily measurement is now 7,084.
Once again, I want to send my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one.
There are two other points I want to update Parliament on today.
The first is about the latest vaccination figures.
As of 8.30 this morning, 1,515,980 people in Scotland have received their first dose of the vaccine. That is an increase of 27,903 since yesterday.
The fact that more than one and a half million people have now received their first dose is a significant milestone.
We have now given a first dose to almost exactly one third of the adult population of Scotland. And that includes virtually everyone in the top four clinical priority groups identified by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.
In addition, 85% of 65 to 69 year olds have received their first dose. We continue to be on course to offer a first dose to everyone in that age group, by early March.
And subject to supply, we expect to be able to offer first doses to all over 50 year olds, and to all adults with an underlying health condition by the 15th of April.
I can also confirm that 56,661 people have now received their second dose of the vaccine – which is an increase of 6,540 on yesterday.
Many of those individuals will be care home residents who had their first dose in December. Around one third of residents in older people’s care homes have now received their second dose. From Monday, we will start publishing that figure on a daily basis.
Once again, I want to take this opportunity to record my thanks to everyone involved in administering the vaccines, and everybody who is coming forward to receive them.
My second update is about the latest estimate of the R number– which we will publish shortly.
We expect that it to show that the R number is unchanged – and remains below 1, but not far below 1.
That underlines the fact that although things are currently heading in the right direction, we have limited scope to ease restrictions – if we are to keep the virus under control.
That’s why the update to the strategic framework – which we published on Tuesday – sets out a cautious, step-by-step approach.
It provides indicative dates for the next six weeks, because that’s the timeframe we can be most confident about.
And beyond that, the framework provides details on what - as of now - we expect our next changes to be.
That approach allows us to monitor the impact of any change – such as the partial reopening of schools this week, or the changes we’ve announced to care home visiting.
But it also means we can accelerate the easing of restrictions – should the data support that.
We will set out more information on the changes we can make, in three weeks’ time.
And if we have greater confidence in the trajectory of the virus at that point, we may be able to give more indicative dates.
But for now - as the vaccinations do their work, and as we learn more about controlling this new variant - it’s vital that we proceed with caution.
And so the basic rule – at the moment – remains the same.
Please stay at home, except for essential purposes.
If you are out, remember the FACTS – but if at all possible, stay at home.
That is how we protect our NHS and save lives.
And it’s how we gives ourselves the best chance of a quicker return to greater normality.
My thanks go to everyone for continuing to stick with it.