All schools in Scotland are to close at the end of this week, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.
In a briefing at St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, she also said a third patient in Scotland diagnosed with Covid-19 has died.
There are now 227 confirmed positive coronavirus cases across Scotland.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to be as open and transparent as possible.
“My view is that it is now inevitable that we will close schools and nurseries.
“My planning assumption now is schools will close to pupils at the end of this week and I wanted today to give parents notice of that now.”
She said that schools have lost too many staff to continue as normal and that the Government is still working out the finer detail of “what this will all mean”.
The First Minister added people should not assume schools will reopen after the Easter break, and she could not promise they will open before the summer holidays.
Initial plans are also in place to introduce £1.9 billion of further financial measures for businesses, on top of the £320 million package of support for small and medium businesses and the hospitality industry announced earlier in the week.
Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop warned earlier on Wednesday the virus has already had “challenging implications” for business, as figures showed Scotland’s economy grew faster than the UK as a whole in the final three months of 2019.
Ms Sturgeon also said: “People’s way of life will be changing dramatically, and potentially for some time to come.
“Lives are being disrupted like never before.
“As part of our efforts to support people and communities, not just businesses, I confirm that the Scottish Government will this afternoon set out a £350 million package of welfare and wellbeing support for people impacted economically or through reduced contact with wider society.”
Please visit https://t.co/aN6gNI7yTZ for the latest information about coronavirus. if you have further questions, or you can't access the website please use the special helpline. RT please! pic.twitter.com/nG9Sh4kwBB— NHS 24 (@NHS24) March 18, 2020
The announcement comes in the wake of a coalition of charities asking ministers to increase the money provided to the Scottish Welfare Fund, which supports people in emergencies.
Meanwhile historic buildings run by the National Trust for Scotland are to close and events including weddings will be postponed.
Catholic bishops also announced that no public Masses will be celebrated in Scotland from Thursday.