THE First Minister and the national clinical director of Scotland made an emotional appeal to Scots yesterday to comply with “tough” new restrictions over the coming “crucial” 16 days in an effort to save the lives of fellow Scots.
They made the plea hours before the “circuit breaker” measures came into force and before it emerged a number of people had died in an Edinburgh hospital following an outbreak of Covid-19 on a cancer ward.
NHS Lothian said it is investigating the outbreak and the ward has been closed to new admissions and discharges to allow tests to be carried out.
The new curbs, which came into force at 6pm last night, will see more than three million people live under the toughest curbs on daily life since the full lockdown brought in March was eased. In addition to a ban on indoor visits to other people’s homes, pubs and restaurants across the five health board areas in the central belt will be closed until October 26.
People living in the central belt are being advised not to travel out of their health board area or use public transport unless absolutely essential.
Speaking at the end of the daily briefing, Professor Jason Leitch said: “These next 16 days are absolutely crucial. Don’t find ways of reaching the edge of the restrictions. Find ways of being inside the restrictions easily and safely.
“Just simply don’t mix households if you could possibly avoid it, don’t travel unless you have to. Stay close to your home unless you have a holiday pre-booked and when you go try and stay local to where you are.
“These 16 days are literally about saving lives again … it’s crucial we spend these 16 days as a whole population in getting the prevalence of coronavirus down.”
Nicola Sturgeon added: “This is really difficult and I know because I feel it myself. I am the First Minister. I am standing here doing my job but I am also a human being and an individual citizen and I feel the frustration and I feel the fatigue that everyone feels with this … Please, please stick to these rules.”
She continued: “To businesses affected by these temporary restrictions having to close your doors at 6pm, I couldn’t be sorrier.”
Earlier in her speech at the start of the briefing, Sturgeon said: “I do not want to be standing here imposing restrictions that limit the freedoms we all love and take for granted but this is, as it was at the very start of this pandemic, about saving lives and keeping each other as safe and as well as we possibly can.”
Their pleas came as Scotland recorded 1246 new coronavirus cases and six deaths of patients confirmed as having had Covid-19 in the previous 24 hours.
The latest number of fatalities takes the total under this measure – patients who died within 28 days of first testing positive – to 2544.
The number of new daily positive cases represents 16.2% of newly-tested individuals, up from 13.5% on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 440 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 306 in Lanarkshire and 192 in Lothian.
A total of 37,033 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up from 35,787 on Thursday.
There are 397 patients in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 20 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 33 were in intensive care, up by two. Meanwhile, six other patients have been confirmed with the virus at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh.
Patients and staff are being screened for the virus as part of the health board’s response.
An incident management team (IMT) has been set up and “robust and enhanced” infection control measures have been put in place on the ward.
All patients have been informed of the outbreak and contact tracing is being carried out.
Patients who would normally return home for the weekend to spend time with families and go back to the hospital on a Monday have been asked to remain in the hospital to reduce the risk of further transmission.
Dr Donald Inverarity, chair of the IMT, said: “Our thoughts are with the family of the deceased and I would like to express our sincere condolences.
“The situation will continue to be reviewed and monitored very closely.
“Patient safety is our main priority and while we understand that the request not to go home for the weekend may be upsetting, it is necessary.
“It will help reduce the risk of onwards transmission and protect their families and the wider community.
“I would like to thank patients and their families for their co-operation and understanding.”