The number of deaths in Scotland linked to coronavirus has fallen for the seventh consecutive week, according to official figures.
At the Scottish Government’s briefing on Wednesday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed a further 12 people have died after being diagnosed with Covid-19.
That takes the number of confirmed and suspected coronavirus deaths registered since March 8 to 123.
On Wednesday, National Records of Scotland revealed there were 104 deaths linked to Covid registered between March 8 and 14 – a decrease of 38 from the previous week.
At least 86 of the deaths have occurred in hospitals.
The death toll of those who tested positive now stands at 7529, however weekly figures on suspected Covid-19 deaths recorded by NRS suggest the most up-to-date total is at least 9831.
Total confirmed cases of the virus has risen to 211,230 – an increase of 625 in the past 24 hours.
The daily test positivity rate is 3%, down from the 3.8% reported on Tuesday when 597 cases were recorded.
Of the new cases reported on Wednesday, 179 are in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, 105 are in Lothian, and 97 are in Lanarkshire.
The rest of the cases are spread out across nine other health board areas.
According to NHS boards across Scotland, 422 people are currently in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 – 18 fewer than what was reported on Tuesday. Out of those, 38 patients are in intensive care.
Sturgeon also confirmed that 1,981,818 Scots have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, an increase of 38,311 from the day before.
A total of 181,879 people have received their second dose, a rise of 10,987.
At the briefing, the First Minister stated that Scotland will establish a new genomic sequencing service to identify different variants of coronavirus.
As part of the new testing strategy, to be announced in Holyrood on Wednesday, £13m will be invested in a new sequencing centre over the next year, with the centre being able to sequence up to 1000 samples per day.
Sturgeon said: “That’s going to be really important in the next phase of the pandemic, helping us identify new variants at as early a stage as possible so that we can try, where those variants are of concern, to make as sure as we can that they don’t get a foothold into the community and start to spread more widely.”
The First Minister said the centre would also be used in the future for any other pandemics or similar public health crises.
Of the new NRS figures, the majority were in hospital at 86, with 14 in care homes, and four at home or in non-institutional settings.
There were 28 deaths in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, 22 in Lanarkshire and 15 in Lothian.
At council level, the highest number of deaths occurred in North Lanarkshire at 13, followed by 10 in Glasgow and nine in South Lanarkshire.
NRS also reported that 64% of the deaths were of people aged 75 and over, with 20% under 65.
Pete Whitehouse, director of statistical services at NRS, said: “Over the last year, Covid-19 has had a devastating impact on communities across the country, my heartfelt sympathies go out to all those who have lost someone to this virus.
“The latest statistics show that for the seventh consecutive week, we have seen a welcome reduction in the number of deaths.
“This is the lowest number of weekly deaths since the week of 19th to 25th October.
“We also published monthly statistics reporting on mortality by deprivation, occupation and pre-existing health conditions.
“Between March 2020 and February 2021, 93% of those who died had at least one pre-existing condition.
“The most common main pre-existing condition was dementia and Alzheimer’s, accounting for 25% of all deaths involving Covid-19.”