Public health and the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will be the cornerstones of this week’s programme for government, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said the impact of coronavirus means this year’s “will not be a normal programme for government”.
The virus has been implicated in the deaths of 4224 Scots, while the economic effects of the country’s lengthy lockdown continue to be felt.
Experts have warned Scotland is now in a “deep recession” after new statistics suggested the coronavirus restrictions caused Scottish GDP to plummet by 19.7% in the second quarter of this year.
Sturgeon said she will set out “radical and wide-ranging policies” to help in the fight against Covid-19 as well as to “drive a strong recovery with a renewed focus on what matters to people across the country”.
She added: “We have an opportunity, not simply to go back to how things were, but to address many of the deep-seated challenges our country faces.
“The programme for government 2020-21 will be based on our determination to recover from this virus and deliver a fairer, greener and more prosperous Scotland for everyone.”
It comes even while the Scottish Government remains in the thick of the public health battle against the virus, with 88 new cases reported on Saturday – the second highest daily total since May.
Infections have climbed during August as a result of large clusters breaking out, such as one in the city of Aberdeen and another out of a food processing plant in Perthshire, which together account for more than 400 new cases this month.
Numbers being treated in hospitals and intensive care units for Covid-19 have risen slightly in the last week.
Sturgeon emphasised the importance of continuing “to keep the virus under control”.
The FM said: “Businesses and individuals have made extraordinary sacrifices to tackle this pandemic together.
“In every community in Scotland people have shown incredible resilience, compassion and skill to provide everything from the most advanced intensive care, to simple acts of kindness.
“That is why it’s so important for us to continue to keep the virus under control.
“At the same time we must also look to the future, to think about how we can help people, businesses and communities recover from this pandemic.
“We cannot, and should not, let this virus define our futures.”
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