Scotland could now be seeing “sustained signs of hope” in the battle against coronavirus, the First Minister said, as the death toll fell for the second week in a row.
Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the decrease in the number of deaths, but stressed this “doesn’t mean we can relax yet”.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, she said that if transmission rates continue to fall, Scotland could “gradually relax the lockdown restrictions”.
Weekly figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) show there were 415 deaths linked to coronavirus in the seven days up to Sunday, May 10.
That’s down by 110 from the previous week and 244 lower than the total two weeks ago.
Including confirmed and suspected cases of the virus, there have been 3329 deaths involving Covid-19 to date in Scotland.
Sturgeon said: “I readily acknowledge that no trend in statistics can ever comfort the many people who have lost a loved one to this virus, and my thoughts and sympathies are with each and every one of them.
“But this week’s figures do offer further, and perhaps sustained, signs of hope.
“The number of Covid deaths, although still far too high, has fallen for the second week in a row. The number of deaths in care homes has also reduced for a second week.”
A total of 238 of deaths linked to coronavirus were in care homes in the week leading up to May 10, down from 314 the week before.
Despite the reductions in fatalities, she stressed: “That doesn’t mean we can relax yet, there are still too many cases, the reproduction rate of the virus is still higher than we would like and we continue to learn more about those most vulnerable to the disease.
“The trends we are seeing now are positive, if transmission rates continue to fall, we will be able to gradually relax the lockdown restrictions.”
However she insisted the Scottish Government will “continue to err on the side of caution”.
She added: “Although we are seeing positive signs in the case numbers, those in hospital and those dying from this virus, we are not through this pandemic yet.”