Coronavirus (COVID-19) update: Health Secretary's speech 27 November 2020

Statement given by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman at a media briefing in St Andrew's House, Edinburgh on Friday 27 November 2020.

Thanks for joining us again today.

I will start with the usual update on today’s statistics. The total number of positive cases reported yesterday was 969.

That represents 4% of the total number of tests, and takes the total number of confirmed cases in Scotland to 93,155.

315 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 201 in Lanarkshire, and 121 in Lothian.

The remaining number of cases were spread across 9 other health board areas.

I can also confirm that 1,099 people are currently in hospital – that is a decrease of 26 from yesterday. 80 people are in intensive care, which is a decrease of 10 from yesterday’s number.

And finally, I regret to report that 37 additional deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours of a patient who first tested positive over the previous 28 days. That takes the total number of deaths, under this measurement, to 3,676.

Each one of those deaths was of an individual who is currently being grieved. So once again, I want to send my condolences to all those who have lost a loved one during this pandemic.

I am joined today joined today by the Chief Nursing Officer – who will be helping me to answer the journalists’ questions shortly.  Before that, though, there are a few items I want to update you on.

The first concerns international travel. The Scottish Government announced last night a number of changes in relation to the quarantine requirements. Two countries - Estonia and Latvia – have been now removed from the exemption list.  It means that they will now be subject to the quarantine requirements.

As a result, from 4am on tomorrow, anyone travelling to Scotland from Estonia or Latvia will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on their return.

There are two other points worth noting.  

First, the travel ban on visitors from Denmark will also be lifted from 4am tomorrow.  That ban was introduced following the discovery of a new variant of Covid, which originated in the mink population.

The view of the UK Chief Medical Officers, is that the risk associated with Denmark is now receding.   However Denmark is still subject to quarantine requirements.

We also announced last night that a number of countries and territories have been added to the exemption list.   Details of those are available on the Scottish Government’s website. 

All of these changes underline an important point – that while the virus is resurgent around the world right now, there’s significant variation between different countries and areas.  And as we’ve seen, the situation anywhere can change very rapidly.

That’s one of the huge challenges we face, in dealing with this pandemic.  And it is – of course – why we continue to advise very strongly against non-essential overseas travel, at the moment.

My second update for today concerns our text message service for people in the shielding category.

We are aware of two incidents where a message was sent by someone, pretending to be from the texting service, asking for people’s personal information.

We are – of course - investigating this as a matter of urgency.  But I wanted to take the opportunity today to remind everyone that the Scottish Government would never send a text message asking for sensitive personal information or banking details.

So if you have signed up to the shielding text message service, and you receive a text asking for financial information or passwords, it is almost certainly a scam.

Anyone who receives a suspicious text or call of this kind, can report it to Advice Direct Scotland. And if you are unfortunate enough to have been the victim of a scam, you should contact the police by dialling 101.

Sadly, instances like this are not unexpected. There will always be a small number of people who seek to exploit any situation they can to defraud people.  But we will continue to do everything we can to prevent this from happening.

The final issue I want to cover today concerns the wellbeing of our health and care workforce

For more than 9 months now, health and care workers have been at the forefront of Scotland’s response to Covid-19.  Throughout that period, they have done an outstanding job in the most challenging and stressful of circumstances.

In recent weeks – of course – the pressures on our health care sector have intensified significantly.   Right now, they’re having to deal with the impact of the second wave – as well as all the emerging challenges of the winter period.

Now, it’s clear that the vast majority of health and care workers are coping well, right now.  But we know that these kinds of pressures can take their toll.

The Scottish Government is determined to do everything we can to support the mental wellbeing of our health and care workforce.

That’s why – in May – we launched our National Wellbeing Hub.  It provides online support for health and care workers, and their families – as well as unpaid carers and volunteers.  

The Hub has range of digital resources designed to help with things like managing stress, improving your sleep, and enhancing resilience.  It also has information on the range of other advice and support services that are available.

Since its launch, more than 53,000 people have used the National Wellbeing Hub.   So if you need a bit of support, I would encourage you to visit it, at

There is also a dedicated national helpline for health and care workers.  I’ll read out the number for it in a moment. 

The helpline allows workers to talk to a team of Psychological Wellbeing Practitioners – who will provide a sympathetic ear, while also providing advice, and referring people on to local services if needed.

The line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is available to all health and social care workers. So if you are stressed or anxious, and need support, you can call 0800 111 4191. That’s 0800 111 4191.

The overall message I want to get across today is that it is ok not to feel ok, right now.  That’s as true for health and care workers, as it is for everyone else. 

So if you’re struggling at the moment, please use the help that’s available.   And if you’re someone who doesn’t think you need help right now, you can still take steps to protect your health and wellbeing. 

Scotland’s health and care workers have done a magnificent job, protecting and caring for people, during this pandemic.  It’s really important you know that there is support there for you too.  

Those are three main issues I wanted to cover today.  To conclude, I want to remind everyone of the key rules and guidelines for staying safe.

Remember- if you are in any doubt about what those rules are, in your local authority, you can use the postcode checker on the Scottish Government’s website.

However, nobody outside of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles should be visiting each other’s homes, except for very specific purposes - such as childcare.

If you do meet people from other households – either outdoors or in public indoor places– the limit is six people, from a maximum of two households.

In addition, avoid car-sharing if you can.

Work from home if you can.

Download the Protect Scotland app, if you are able to.

And finally, remember FACTS - the five key rules that we can all use, to reduce our chance of getting the virus, or of passing it on:

  • remember face coverings
  • avoid crowded places
  • clean your hands and clean hard surfaces
  • keep two metres distance from people from other households
  • and self-isolate, and get tested immediately, if you have any of the symptoms of COVID.

These rules will help us to protect ourselves, our communities, and the NHS. And they will save lives.  

So thank you to everyone who is doing that.

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