Coronavirus: ‘Things firmly heading in the right direction’

First Minister says number of cases is falling and country's vaccination programme is progressing extremely well.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Scotland’s response to tackling the coronavirus pandemic is “firmly heading in the right direction”.

Another 24 deaths and 500 cases have been recorded over the past 24 hours.

Scotland hopes to start lifting lockdown restrictions in the coming weeks, and Sturgeon told parliament that progress was being made.

She said: “The number of cases is falling, the numbers in hospital are falling and the vaccination programme is progressing extremely well”.

Three other deaths that were registered recently were also added to the total under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – which now stands at 7398.

Meanwhile, 726 patients are currently in hospital with coronavirus, a decrease of 24, with 69 of those in intensive care, down one

The number of people who have been given their first dose of the coronavirus vaccine now stands at 1,688,608, an increase of 26,729 from the day before.

Additionally, more than 100,000 have received their second dose.

Enhanced contact tracing is currently under way in Scotland after the Brazilian variant of Covid-19 was detected in the country.

Three Scottish residents tested positive for coronavirus after flying into Aberdeen from Brazil, via Paris and London, in January.

The tests, which were completed in early February, were passed to the UK’s sequencing programme and were identified as being the Manaus variant on Saturday.

The First Minister said the importation of new variants of Covid-19 from overseas remained one of the key threats to defeating the virus.

She said: “It is absolutely the case that the key risk we face as we suppress the virus here at home and vaccinate more people is new variants coming into the country that could potentially undermine the efficacy of the vaccine, so this is one of the most serious challenges and top priorities that we have in the weeks to come.

“Local authorities have the ability and there is work to identify the needs of people who are being asked to self-isolate and that can – if necessary – include accommodation.

“We should take care to ensure that we are not risking the spread of the virus through the lack of availability of the support people need to self-isolate and that is something we take seriously.”

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