Covid-19: Scotland’s R number at 0.6-0.8, Nicola Sturgeon says

NICOLA Sturgeon has said that Scotland is “making very real progress” in combatting Covid-19 as she announced the virus’s reinfection rate had fallen to between 0.6 and 0.8.

Speaking at today’s Scottish Government briefing, the First Minister said there had been five further coronavirus deaths since yesterday – meaning a total of 2439 people have died after testing positive for Covid-19 in Scotland. National Records of Scotland figures yesterday said there have been 4000 deaths in Scotland with Covid-19 mentioned on the death certificate.

The SNP leader added that 17 further people have tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of Scots confirmed to have had the virus this year to 15,682.

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Sturgeon said her government expects the virus “will continue to decline” and revealed the reinfection rate, or R number, had fallen from 0.7-0.9 on June 5 to 0.6-0.8.

However, she added that the current R rate estimates do not yet include the changes made to lockdown at the end of May.

She told the briefing: “We estimate that the R number in Scotland as of last Friday, June 5, was between 0.6 and 0.8, that is a lower estimate than for two weeks ago when we calculated that the number was likely to be between 0.7 and 0.9.

“Under that estimate we expect that the virus will continue to decline. In addition we estimate that last Friday 4500 people in Scotland had the virus and were infectious, our previous estimate for May 29 had been that 11,500 people were likely to be infectious.”

However the First Minister explained that it was not the case that the number of infectious people has more than halved in a week, but that the Scottish Government constantly reassesses its estimates – so it was likely that the 11,500 figure was an over-estimation.

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She went on: “The latest estimates reflect the encouraging data that we have seen in the last couple of weeks. And there is no doubt looking at all of this data that we are making very real progress in combatting and suppressing the virus in Scotland.

“However as always it’s important that I inject a note of caution, firstly the estimates that I have reported to you today of course don’t yet take account of the phase one changes that we made in the easing out of lockdown and we need to continue to monitor any impact from that.”

Sturgeon also announced an extension of the Scottish Government’s help-to-buy scheme. The initiative, which provides up to 15% of the price of buying a new-build house, was due to end in March next year but has now been extended to March 2022.

She also announced support for students, who often work in part-time jobs to supplement their income. Sturgeon said more than £11 million of support will be made available for students through their colleges or universities to help those who “most need it”.

The First Minister also touched on the Test and Protect system, put in place to trace those who had been in contact with confirmed coronavirus cases.

The SNP leader said that the number of people who tested positive through the scheme is higher than the daily figures reported during the briefings, due to UK Government test centres not being included in the daily statistics.

She also said that the statistics “slightly overstate” the number of cases where no tracing has been carried out, because some historic cases from the early pilot schemes are still in the statistics.

The First Minister added that initial statistics showed that “Test and Protect is working well”.

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