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Lockdown ‘very likely’ to continue beyond this week, says Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister said the coronavirus infection rate is still too high to relax measures.

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A soldier assists at a Covid-19 testing centre at Glasgow Airport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A soldier assists at a Covid-19 testing centre at Glasgow Airport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

A soldier assists at a Covid-19 testing centre at Glasgow Airport (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon said it is “very likely” the Scottish Government will continue lockdown measures beyond a scheduled review on Thursday.

Prime Minster Boris Johnson is due to set out a new strategy on how the lockdown will be eased following a review of the current arrangements.

Speaking at her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the infection rate is still too high to make “any meaningful change”.

She revealed a total of 1,576 patients have died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by five from 1,571 on Sunday.

The First Minister said 12,226 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 169 from 12,097 the day before.

There are 99 people in intensive care with coronavirus or coronavirus symptoms and a total of 1,720 people are in hospital with the virus.

Since March 5, 2,780 people who have tested positive for coronavirus have been able to leave hospital.

Ms Sturgeon said although “real and significant progress” is being made, the rate of reproduction of the virus is still too high to relax lockdown measures.

She said some work on a potential transition from lockdown will be published in the coming days and while work would be done to ensure there is alignment with the rest of the UK, divergence in measures could still be possible.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

Press Association Images

(PA Graphics)

The First Minister said the next lockdown review period will be from May 7 to May 28 and the evidence will drive whether changes are made within that three-week period, at the end of it or not at all.

She said: “In the interests of transparency I can’t say for certain right now whether before May 28 or on May 28 I’ll be able to say we’re easing anything but I’m pretty certain right now, albeit a formal decision hasn’t been taken, that I’m not going to be able to announce any meaningful changes at this point, which will be on Thursday May 7.”

Ms Sturgeon added she wants to be delivering a daily briefing “in a few weeks” saying the measures are being eased.

“My big worry is that if we ease up now then I won’t be able to do that,” she said.

The First Minister also outlined the Scottish Government’s test, trace, isolate (TTI) strategy, which she said will aid the easing of the lockdown measures.

Ms Sturgeon said the strategy will only work if the public adheres to it, adding it is not a “quick fix or magic solution” and will need to be done alongside current hygiene guidance.

She said moves are being made to deliver a TTI strategy by the end of May, with testing capacity expected to have to rise to 15,500 per day to support the approach.

Discussing the possibility of a proximity app, the First Minister said it would work using Bluetooth technology, alerting anyone who has been in contact with someone showing symptoms through an alert.

The First Minister said the Scottish Government is not building its strategy around the app and it will need the confidence of the public to be successful.

PA