Highest number of Covid cases in Scotland for three months

Scotland has recorded 77 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours.

Scotland has recorded 77 new cases of coronavirus in the past 24 hours, the highest figure for three months.

It comes amid a spate of local clusters across the country, including in Aberdeen, Glasgow, North Lanarkshire and Perthshire.

A total of 27 of the 77 new cases on Thursday were in the Tayside health board region, where a cluster broke out this week at a chicken factory in Coupar Angus, Perthshire.

Scotland has now seen 19,534 Covid-19 infections over the course of the pandemic.

Announcing the latest statistics before MSPs, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the country would remain in phase three of its route map out of lockdown for the next three weeks.

However, the reopening of gyms, swimming pools and indoor sports courts has been brought forward to August 31, from an earlier indicative date of September 14.

Meanwhile, other activities set to resume from Monday, August 24, were given the green light.

They include outdoor contact sports, driving lessons, indoor face-to-face advice services such as Citizens Advice.

Some live outdoor events can also resume, as can bingo halls – although with strict limits on numbers and hygiene measures.

The First Minister told MSPs: “I am not able to indicate, today, a move from phase three of our route map out of lockdown to phase four.

“We will remain, for now, in phase three and I must give notice today that this may well be the case beyond the next review point too.”

For Scotland to move into phase four she said ministers would have to be satisfied that “the virus is no longer considered a significant threat to public health”.

Currently, “this is definitely not the case”, she added.

Sturgeon said the most recent estimate was that the R number in Scotland – the number of people each infected person infects – “could currently be above one”.

She added public health authorities are now dealing with a “significant cluster” in Coupar Angus linked to the 2 Sisters food plant, with ministers “considering carefully and urgently whether further restrictions are necessary”.

There are currently 43 cases directly associated with the Coupar Angus cluster, although Sturgeon said she expects those numbers to rise.

And she said 237 cases are now associated with the cluster in Aberdeen which originated in pubs, up from 226 on Wednesday.

There are 249 people with coronavirus in hospitals across Scotland, an increase of one on the day before.

Just two of those are being treated in intensive care, an unchanged figure.

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