Sturgeon: Covid-19 the biggest challenge of our lifetime

The First Minister called for the public's help to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in a national address.

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The First Minister has called for the public’s help to tackle the coronavirus pandemic in a national address, branding it “the biggest challenge of our lifetime”.

Nicola Sturgeon told Scots, live on STV News: “I will do my utmost to lead us safely through – but I need your help.”

She said it was “vital” people in Scotland followed the government’s social distancing advice to slow down the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

It follows Boris Johnson’s announcement less than an hour earlier telling all pubs, bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs, gyms and leisure centres to close tonight “as soon as they possibly can” and not open tomorrow.

Sturgeon reiterated that demand, speaking from the First Minister’s official residence of Bute House in Edinburgh.

She said everyone must act now to slow the spread of the virus, adding that we must also reduce the number of people we meet and come into contact with.

But the FM also warned the number of cases of Covid-19 are set to rise sharply.

Earlier, Chancellor Rishi Sunak also announced sweeping state interventions in the economy, guaranteeing 80% of all companies’ wage bills to prevent workers from being laid off.

Addressing older people and children, the First Minister said: “A crisis like this will have an impact on wellbeing and mental health.

“To older people, we’re asking you to stay away from your grandkids, from the people you love.

“That’s hard, but it is for your protection, so you can stay around to see them grow up.

“To children, I know this is a strange time. You’re away from school and won’t be able to spend as much time with friends.

“The adults around you are probably feeling a bit anxious too. So help them. Follow their advice. Study and do your homework.

“Don’t forget to have fun – and wash your hands.”

She added: “Let’s all look out for each other. At times of crisis we need each other more, yet we’re being told to stay apart.

“But we can still communicate and offer comfort. Modern technology is sometimes a curse. It can now be a lifeline.

“Phone or Skype loved ones. Text neighbours or drop a note through their door to see if they need help. Maybe even write a letter to your grandparents.”

Sturgeon said the country is “entering stormy waters” but added that “with compassion and kindness and dedication and expertise of our NHS we can and will get through this”.

She said her own sister and sister-in-law work for the NHS, and the debt of gratitude owed to NHS workers is “enormous”.

The First Minister also urged people to support local businesses but not to panic buy.

“There is plenty to go around if we all act responsibly,”. she said.