Coronavirus: 68 more deaths as cases surge by 2039 overnight

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 1384 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19.

Coronavirus: 68 more deaths as cases surge by 2039 overnight Getty Images

A further 68 people have died in Scotland after being diagnosed with coronavirus, the Scottish Government has confirmed.

Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 141,066 – a jump of 2039 in the past 24 hours.

The daily test positivity rate is 10.5%, down from the 14.8% reported on Tuesday when 2529 cases were recorded.

Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 603 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 296 are in Lanarkshire, 206 are in Grampian, 194 are in Ayrshire and Arran, 177 are in Tayside and 164 are in Lothian.

The rest of the cases are spread out across seven other health board areas.

According to NHS boards across Scotland, 1384 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – an increase of 37 overnight. Out of those, 95 patients are in intensive care.

The death toll of those who had tested positive stands at 4701, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by National Records of Scotland suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 6298.

On Tuesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon revealed an analysis of samples showed that the new coronavirus variant was responsible for around 50% of fresh cases across the country.

It came on the same day mainland Scotland and Skye returned to lockdown in a bid to stem the spread of the new strain.

A legally-enforceable stay-at-home order has been applied to all local authority areas in level four of the Scottish Government’s five-tier system.

The latest restrictions are expected to last at least until the end of January.

Linda Bauld, professor of public health at Edinburgh University, told STV News that the new variant had “thrown a spanner in the works” and a return to normality may not be on the cards this year.

She also said Scots being allowed to go on holiday abroad and the Eat Out to Help Out scheme dented progress made last summer in the fight against the deadly virus. 

The professor said Scotland had failed to ban travel into the country from other parts of the UK where there were much higher levels of infection.

Speaking about international travel, she added: “People were not prevented, and I know it sounds horrible to say this, from going to Spain and other places on holiday and bringing the virus back into the country.

“And we know that people didn’t quarantine in the way that they were supposed to and there was poor follow-up with that.

“So, those were really, really missed opportunities in the summer.”

On Wednesday, the SNP’s Westminster leader called for the UK’s borders to be closed to “all but essential travel” to prevent the new strain from spreading further.

MP Ian Blackford told the Commons: “Nobody would say that this Prime Minister is one step ahead of tomorrow or acts and shows leadership in dealing with this health pandemic.

“The PM was slow to act in the spring of 2020, slow in the autumn, and here again reacts after the events to the threats that we all face.

“On travel, is the Prime Minister prepared to learn from his Government’s past mistakes?

“Will he consider closing the UK border to all but essential travel to prevent new strains of the virus spreading?”

Boris Johnson replied: “As I said just now, we will make sure that we protect our borders from the readmission of the virus and he has seen what we did already in the case of the South African strain.

“And we’ll bring forward further measures to stop the readmission of the virus.”

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