Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: First Minister's statement - 5 March 2021

Parliamentary statement given by the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh on Friday 5 March 2021.

Hello. Thanks for joining us again today.

I am going to give you the usual daily update. The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 498. That’s 3.1% of the total number of tests. The overall number of confirmed cases is therefore now 204,553. Of those new cases 157 were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area, 107 in Lanarkshire and 73 in Lothian. The remaining cases are spread across nine other health board areas.

666 people are currently in hospital which is 52 less than yesterday and 64 people are in intensive care. That is three fewer than yesterday. I am sorry to report that 11 additional deaths were registered in the past 24 hours which takes the total number of deaths under this daily measurement to 7,409. And obviously every single one of those deaths is a tragedy and I want to send again my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one.

As you can see I am joined today by the National Clinical Director who will help me answer questions shortly. Before that though there are a couple of issues I want to cover.

The first is just to update you on the progress of the vaccination programme. As of 8.30 this morning, 1,717,672 people have received the first dose of the vaccine. That is an increase of 29,064 since yesterday.

In addition, 8,139 people received a second dose yesterday and that brings the total number of second doses now administered to 108,197.

Now it’s worth noting that from today, Public Health Scotland will publish a breakdown of that figure showing the numbers of people who have had the second dose by age, sex and location.

But I can confirm that 96% of people in the 65 to 69-year-old age group have now received the first dose and so have 39% of 60 to 64-year-olds, 33% of 55 to 59-year-olds and 27% of 50 to 54-year-olds.

As I indicated previously we might face some supply issues next week which could affect vaccination appointments, but we are working hard to try to avoid that and we still expect and indeed we are on track to have offered the first dose of the vaccine to everybody over 50 years of age and to unpaid carers and to all adults of whatever age with particular underlying health conditions by the middle of April.

The good progress of the vaccination programme and also the declining number of people catching or falling seriously ill with Covid, should give us all real encouragement just now that greater normality is firmly on the horizon. Indeed, and I will say more about this on Tuesday in parliament next week, but I am hopeful that next week we might be able to make some relatively minor, but I think important changes to the rules around our ability to meet people outdoors and also to how young people are able to interact with their friends outdoors. I think it is really important, and Jason will say a bit about this in a moment, that we don’t get carried away yet, the overall Stay At Home message needs to stay for a bit longer so that we don’t send our progress into reverse, but I am very keen that, within that, if we can, then we should all get a bit more opportunity to see loved ones as the first steps we take out of this lockdown.

Now the second point I want to highlight relates to testing. Since the start of the year, we’ve continued to expand the number of Covid tests we’re making available to people working in key public services.

Regular asymptomatic testing is now also available at certain food production and food processing businesses, places like dairies, abattoirs and meat and seafood processing plants. These are settings that we know, and indeed have had some experience of this, present a higher risk of transmission due to factors like low temperatures, high humidity and limited ventilation. So we have extended testing to these kinds of businesses in order to try to minimize the risk of outbreaks in them.

Under the scheme, eligible businesses are provided with free lateral flow tests.   These tests allow workers to see their results very quickly - within 45 minutes of the test being administered – but as you have heard us reflect on here before, lateral flow tests are less sensitive than standard PCR tests. And so for anybody who tests positive through a lateral flow test, the advice is to have that followed up and confirmed by a PCR test.

The testing on offer of course is voluntary for businesses and staff. However, a growing numbers of businesses are now signing up. And I would strongly encourage others that are eligible to do the same. If you want to find out more about whether or not your business is eligible you can find details or get details by contacting

Regular testing is an important tool to help identify positive cases. So by taking part in this scheme, food businesses are helping, obviously to protect their workers and to prevent outbreaks and minimise the risk of closure. But they are also helping to minimise the risk of any cases or outbreaks in their premises spreading into the wider community. And that’s obviously good for everyone. Helping businesses to stay open, but also giving everybody an added degree of protection.

Those are the two points I wanted to highlight today. Before I close though and hand over to Jason I will just stress again the current rules and guidelines. For now the most important rule of all for all of us is to stay at home except for essential purposes.

Don’t meet up with other households indoors and if you are meeting up with others outdoors for now please only meet with one other person from one other household. Continue to work from home if you can and as an employer that is the situation you are in remember to support, you have a duty to support your workers to work from home.

And if you are out and about please continue to follow all of the vital FACTS advice.

If we all stick with this right now I am really, really optimistic at the moment that we will continue to see the progress that we need to see to start opening things up and getting us all back to much more normality.

Jason and I were just reflecting before we came in here the last time we saw similar case numbers, and Jason may say more about the overall picture here, was round about September, October, but we also know then just how quickly things started to go in the wrong direction again so it is really important that we stick with it for now, hold our nerve, keep suppressing cases while vaccination does its job. And if we do all of that we can be really hopeful that there are definitely, at long last, better days lying ahead.

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