There are early indications that hospital coronavirus admissions are flattening but the situation remains “fragile”, Scotland’s national clinical director has said.
Professor Jason Leitch said it appears social distancing measures are working and are preventing the health service from being overwhelmed.
However, he said it was too early to say how long the lockdown may go on for until more data is available.
Prof Leitch said cases in Scotland are rising and mortality is still high, with the country following almost exactly what is happening across the UK and Europe, though there are some signs that measures to tackle the outbreak may be having an effect.
He told the BBC: “The public are helping and we do see some early signs of the lead indicators, I’m reluctant to say it’s encouraging, but we do see some signs that those lead indicators of admission to hospital are beginning to flatten off a little bit but it feels very fragile.”
Asked how much longer the lockdown may continue, he said: “It’s impossible to predict until we see more data.
Weeks ago on this programme and others I was talking about trying to move the peak from a very sharp spike into a longer flatter curve, I talked about it being like the difference between Ben Nevis and Arthur’s Seat for the Scottish audience.
“That curve was for two reasons, it was to allow the NHS to manage and protect the very vulnerable, so it appears that the social distancing measures have managed that to some extent so the health service isn’t overwhelmed in any of the four UK countries, so the public have done that, every time the public have stayed home they have flattened that curve.
“What that means though is the peak won’t be a single day, it won’t be a Tuesday night or a Wednesday, it will take time for that peak to flatten and then begin to fall and only when it begins to fall will the advisers tell the decision-makers that now is the time to think about doing something.”
Scotland’s health secretary, Jeane Freeman, also said that more data is needed before any decision on easing the lockdown is made, and thanked people in Scotland for following advice about staying home.
She also said authorities would not rule out taking more stringent measures if necessary.
She told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We’ve never said we wouldn’t take more stringent measures if we needed to but we’ve also always said that as soon as we can lift any of the restrictions currently in place then we will do that, but we need to see the data and see, more than three weeks in, exactly what’s happening to those cases.
“And in some other parts of the world where they have lifted restrictions they have then seen another spike in cases so it’s a careful, balanced judgment that you need to take and you need to have the maximum information to hand before you can do that.”