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Thank you, Presiding officer, and thank you to the other party leaders.
It is now exactly 100 days since the first cases of coronavirus were reported in Wuhan and in that time, our lives have been transformed in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago.
And this virtual session of FMQs might in the scheme of things be a relatively minor example of that, but it is a striking example for our parliament, so I want to place on record my thanks to you, Presiding Officer, and all the parliament staff for making that happen.
I do want to give a very brief update on the latest figures we have in relation to Covid-19 in Scotland.
As at 9 o’clock this morning, there have been 4,957 positive cases confirmed – that is an increase of 392 from the figures reported yesterday.
As always, I should be clear that these figures will be an underestimate.
A total of 1,781 patients are currently in hospitals across the country with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. That is an increase of ten on the number reported yesterday.
And a total of 212 people last night were in intensive care with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus. That is an increase of two from yesterday.
And it is with great sadness that I must report an additional 81 deaths of patients who had tested positive for COVID-19. That takes the total number of deaths in Scotland where the individual had tested positive to 447.
However, as you are aware National Records of Scotland are now publishing weekly figures which will report on deaths where the virus is presumed as well as confirmed.
And I want to convey my deepest sympathy to all who’ve lost loved ones to the virus and also say a heartfelt thank you to everyone working so hard to keep essential services running at this time of crisis.
That of course includes our health and care staff and I expect that all of us, and thousands across the country, will express our appreciation for them again tonight at 8pm with applause.
I know that opposition leaders will have questions on a range of matters on health and care services and on the wider economic and social impacts of COVID.
But since we are about to enter the Easter weekend, I want to conclude with a strong re-emphasis of the vital importance of everyone following the public health restrictions that are in place, and staying at home except for the permitted essential purposes.
I know how hard it is for people to do that. It will seem even harder over this Easter holiday weekend – especially for families with children, indeed for the children themselves, and for older people who would normally be spending time with their grandchildren.
So please, stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones in whatever alternative way best works for you. Reach out to and look out for people even as you stay physically apart from them.
But please, do follow the rules and stay at home over Easter.
By doing that, all of us can help to slow down the spread of this virus. We can help to protect our National Health Service And we can also help to save lives.
So I will end by thanking everybody in advance for doing the right thing over this weekend.