Seven more Covid deaths but Scotland ‘in much better place’

The FM says there 'are grounds for optimism' that Scotland can further ease coronavirus restrictions from August 9.

Seven more coronavirus deaths have been recorded in Scotland as the First Minister confirmed she will announce next week whether the country is in a position to further ease restrictions.

The whole of Scotland is currently under level zero restrictions and Nicola Sturgeon said the Government hopes to lift remaining Covid measures from August 9.

Cases have more than halved in the past two weeks while the weekly figure of patients in hospital with the virus has fallen to 421 from 577 the previous week.

Speaking at Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing, the First Minister said: “What we’ll be doing between now and then is weighing up the different factors that will inform that decision.

“Several of these factors give us really strong grounds for hope and that is positive, although others remind us for the need of continued caution.

“There is no doubt we are in a much better place than we were last March, at the start of the pandemic, or at the beginning of this year, or even at the start of this month.

“In short, we have seen some very positive developments recently, and that does give us grounds for optimism that we will be able to continue progress, out of restrictions.

“That said, we do still need to be cautious.”

As well as a further seven deaths, the First Minister also announced 1044 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours.

It means the death toll under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 7866.

The daily test positivity rate was 5.6%, down from 8% on Monday.

Meanwhile, there here were 472 people in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down three on the previous day, with 63 patients in intensive care, down two.

Sturgeon said vaccination was the key reason that high case numbers in recent months had not resulted in the same number of deaths or hospitalisations as in previous waves.

So far, 4,000,658 people have received their first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 3,108,928 have received their second dose.

“I’m pleased to say that firstly, as of this morning, a new milestone has passed,” said Sturgeon.

“More than four million people – 4,000,653 to be precise – have now received a first dose of vaccine. All adults have now been offered a first dose of the vaccine and 90% have taken up that offer and had the first dose.

“In addition, approximately 70% of adults have now had both doses of the vaccine – that includes 92% of those who are aged 40 or older.”

The First Minister also criticised people who were “deliberately spreading misinformation” about the vaccine.

She said: “If you’re an anti-vaxxer who is going around deliberately spreading misinformation about this vaccine then yes I would accuse you of anti-social behaviour because you are putting people at risk by doing that and I would ask you to think very carefully about that.

“If you are doing it deliberately, definitely, or if you are just blithely retweeting or sharing on social media information about the vaccine that has not got any basis in evidence or fact then you are not helping at all; in fact you are doing the opposite of helping.

“But if you are someone who is genuinely worried about vaccination because you might be reading about some of this stuff then I would say to you ‘pleas just take a bit of time to find out the facts about the vaccine’.”

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