Lockdown measures restricting people’s movement amid the Covid-19 pandemic could be in place until June, Scotland’s chief medical officer has warned.
Dr Catherine Calderwood said “some sort of measures” would be required for “at least 13 weeks” as she predicted the peak in coronavirus cases to arrive in two to three weeks.
She said that if restrictions were lifted before 13 weeks had passed that it could mean a spike in fresh cases as the virus continues to transmit.
New emergency powers were passed this week to enforce social distancing rules that people must stay at home except for essential shopping, daily exercise, medical need, to help a vulnerable person or to go to work if absolutely necessary.
Public gatherings of more than two are banned unless you live with them and you cannot mix with other households.
Dr Calderwood said: “I think we’ve seen really good evidence of people taking themselves back into their homes not going out nearly as much this week.”
She said there had been “disappointing sights” last weekend of people gathering outside in places like beaches – stressing that is added that “why we have really pushed for people to stay at home except for very essential shopping trips [and] a little bit of exercise once a day… but really not to see anyone if at all possible outside your own household”.
Speaking to the BBC, Dr Calderwood continued: “We’ve now had quite significant lockdown-type measure in the UK for a week.
“We know that we can tell whether that’s making a difference within two weeks to three weeks so that modelling is being relooked at.”
She said she was “optimistic” the high projected death toll of the virus could be avoided after a worst-case scenario study suggested there could be 260,000 UK deaths.
She said: “We would hope we are looking at a more optimistic level given the range of measures we have put in which are quite extreme and also given the level of compliance.
“We are very hopeful that that huge figure of 260,000 excess deaths is not going to be the reality.”