Virus ‘released from lockdown’ as cases continue to rise

Scotland's 146 new cases amount to 2.4% of all newly-tested individuals.

Nicola Sturgeon has warned Scotland is at a “key moment” in its fight against coronavirus as the country recorded 146 cases in the last 24 hours.

It’s the ninth day in a row Scotland has seen more than 100 new daily infections, including a total of 208 on Sunday.

In addition, Monday’s 146 new cases amount to 2.4% of newly-tested Scots – the highest percentage since the government began publishing this data.

Of the new cases, 78 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 19 in Lanarkshire and 13 in Lothian.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily Covid-19 briefing, the First Minister said: “The first line of defence is us.”

She laid out the rise in cases in Scotland over recent weeks, saying six weeks ago the average number of daily infections was just 14 per day.

It has now risen to an average of 152 over the last seven days.

Similarly, the so-called positivity rate – the percentage of individuals tested for the disease who come back positive – is up from less than 1% a fortnight ago to 2.4% on Monday.

Sturgeon warned action is needed if the country is to avoid a second national lockdown.

It comes amid ongoing restrictions on indoor household gatherings in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire amid surging cases there.

The First Minister said despite a review this week, the measures could well have to be “reimposed rather than relaxed”.

She said: “If we want to avoid having to close parts of our economy down again, and I think we all want to avoid that, we must step up our other ways of keeping Covid under control.

“This really is a key moment, and I want therefore to be pretty frank with you in my assessment today.”

Sturgeon urged members of the public to “step up” their actions to curb the virus’ spread.

While Scotland’s testing regime is important – including a new proximity app due to be launched within days – she said people’s general conduct is even more crucial in stemming the pandemic.

Sturgeon also stressed it is “not true” to say that Covid-19 hospital admissions haven’t risen amid the rising cases, saying they are up by 14 a day to 22 a day.

The FM urged Scots to “listen to” that warning, stating: “We risk, in the weeks ahead, going back to a mounting toll of illness and death.”

There are 256 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of 12 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, five were in intensive care, up one.

No new deaths among coronavirus patients have been reported in the last day.

The First Minister did concede that the last time cases were so high, back in May, testing was far lower than it is now.

More than 600,000 Scots have been tested for coronavirus over the course of the pandemic – with more than half of that number tested in the last eight weeks.

Scotland has gone from an average of around 4400 tests per day at the start of July to more than 25,000 a day in the past week.

But Sturgeon warned: “We have a very definite trend at the moment.

“In some ways it shouldn’t surprise us, in recent weeks we have opened up most of our economy.

“But as we have released ourselves from lockdown we have also released the virus from lockdown.”

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