Coronavirus epidemic in Scotland continues to shrink

The latest R number estimate – the reproduction rate of coronavirus – has fallen to between 0.6 and 0.8.

The Covid-19 epidemic in Scotland continues to shrink in a sign of “very real progress” in suppressing the virus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister said the latest R number estimate – the reproduction rate of coronavirus – has fallen to between 0.6 and 0.8 as of last Friday.

It was previously believed to be between 0.7 and 0.9.

This number refers to the number of people each Covid-infectious case is passing the virus onto in turn.

At the height of Covid-19’s spread in the country, experts believe the R number could have been as high as between four and six.

That means every person with coronavirus was infecting at least four others, who would then infect four more each, quickly leading to exponential growth in the epidemic’s size.

All governments of the UK have stated the importance of keeping the R number below one both to ease lockdown and prevent a second wave.

It comes as the First Minister said 17 new cases of Covid-19 had been reported by NHS labs in the last 24 hours.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s Thursday briefing, she also said five people had died with the virus, taking the total including suspected cases to 4024.

A total of 909 people are in hospital with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms, down 78, with 21 of them in intensive care, up three.

More than 3800 positive cases have been able to leave hospital to continue their recovery from coronavirus since the pandemic started.

Sturgeon also said her government estimated 4500 people in Scotland were infectious as of Friday, a decline from 11,500 the previous week.

The FM added the 11,500 figure was likely to have been an overestimate.

She said: “These latest estimates reflect the encouraging data that we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks and there is no doubt in looking at all of this data that we are making very real progress in combating and suppressing the virus.”

But the First Minister warned this 4500-strong group is “still large enough to make the virus take off rapidly” if the R number rises.