1.25pm BST

Sturgeon says she regrets anyone feeling let down by what happened in care homes.

She says Covid has forced some adaptions that should have happened earlier, such as the wider use of video consultations with doctors.

She says tomorrow she will be making a statement to the Scottish parliament about the next steps being taken in terms of easing the lockdown.

And that’s it. The Scottish government briefing is over.

1.21pm BST

Q: Do you have any concerns about students from other parts of the UK or from overseas coming to Scotland, if they are coming from places with higher rates of coronavirus?

Sturgeon says Scotland wants students from other countries. But it will be discussing the risks with universities, and then seeing what can be done to mitigate those risks.

1.17pm BST

Sturgeon says her biggest concern is people ‘getting bit lax’ over coronavirus

Q: The opposition parties at Holyrood have been complaining about the fact that these briefings are broadcast. They say they are party political. Do they have a point?

Sturgeon says she is a reasonable person. She thinks people watching can make their own judgments as to whether she is using them as a party political platform. Sometimes she refuses to answer political questions. But she says people will decide for themselves whether answering a question about Covid amounts to making a political point.

She says her biggest concern is that people are “getting a bit lax”.

She says being able to look down the camera and give people the advice needed to keep this under control is important. It is up to the broadcasters what they do, she says. But this is in the public interest, she says.

1.13pm BST

Asked about the Care Home Scandal, a documentary shown on TV in Scotland last night, Sturgeon says it breaks her heart, and deeply upsets her, to think of what happened in care homes. She says it is important not to be defensive, because of the need to learn from what went wrong.

She says it is possible that “straightforward mistakes” were made.

But she says some of the discussion of what happened in care homes is based on knowledge that we have now that was not available then.

Some of the people being discharged from hospital were well, she says. And having them stay in a hospital, when the hospitals were about to fill up with coronavirus patients, may not have been the best thing, she says.

She says there was a fear that hospitals would be overwhelmed. Thankfully that did not happen, she says. But she says that does not mean this was not a possibility.

1.07pm BST

Q: There are reports the UK government could impose quarantine on arrivals from Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia. (See 11.57am.) Would you support that?

Sturgeon says she will not comment on particular countries. But she says there is a four nations discussion later today on this topic (ie, a discussion involving England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) and she says she expects this to be discussed at that meeting.

1.04pm BST

Sturgeon urges UK government to extend furlough scheme beyond October

Sturgeon says the furlough scheme should not end prematurely. There are other countries that have extended their versions of the scheme well beyond October (when the UK one will end), and into next year. It should be extended, even if just for certain sectors.

1.00pm BST

Sturgeon says she would like to be able to give people hope about the prospects of restrictions being lifted. But she would not be doing her job if she gave people false hope, she says. She says she has to be cautious. Her priority is ensuring children can return to school, she says.

She says if the government takes the wrong decisions in the wrong order, it will make the situation worse.

The recovery has to be sustainable, she says.

She says there are umpteen examples of countries that thought they were out of this, and that opened up their economy, only to have to close it down again. She wants to ensure that does not happen in Scotland, she says.

12.54pm BST

Q: There is a report out today saying capacity for cancer surgery in Scotland will be running at about 60% of normal for the next two years. What is your response?

Sturgeon says urgent treatment should go ahead.

Prof Fiona McQueen, the chief nursing officer for Scotland, who is also at the briefing, repeats Sturgeon’s point about how urgent surgery should still be able to go ahead.

She says the NHS in Scotland is trying to ensure its capacity is being used fully, and that people are getting the treatment they need.

She says not all treatments are urgent. But urgent treatments should go ahead, she says.

at 12.56pm BST

12.49pm BST

Q: When will large weddings be allowed to go ahead?

Sturgeon says she will give a general update to the Scottish parliament tomorrow on lockdown rules.

She says there is “limited headroom”. If she were to relax the rules too much, that might jeopardise the chances of children being able to go back to school in August.

She says the Scottish cabinet discussed these issues this morning. The government has to make an overall assessment, she says.

12.40pm BST

Sturgeon says small increase in Scotland’s weekly death toll ‘regrettable and very unwelcome’

In her opening statement at her regular coronavirus press briefing Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said the prevalence of coronavirus in Scotland remained low. But she said the small increase in the weekly death toll was “regrettable and very unwelcome”. (See 12.25pm.)


NS: “I want to say just a word or two more about the fact that the number of Covid deaths rose very slightly last week, especially given that we reported no deaths at all over that period in our daily figures.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “Four of the eight deaths reported by NRS were in hospital. Two were in care homes. Two were in other settings – for example, at home.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “The reason why the 4 deaths in hospital weren’t captured by our daily figures is that these daily figures, as I’ve mentioned already today, record people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “However, some people who test positive receive care for more than 28 days afterwards, but sadly, some of them don’t manage to recover.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “If these people die after the initial 28 days, but have Covid recorded on the death certificate as a contributory factor, then they would be included in the NRS report but not in the daily figures.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “That’s to give you an assurance that all deaths associated with Covid are being captured and reported, between our daily figures and the National Records of Scotland report.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “I want to make just two more general points about today’s figures. First, obviously, any increase in deaths, however small it might be, is regrettable and very unwelcome.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “But when we have very low levels, as thankfully we do right now, fluctuation is to be expected. However the second point is this one.”

July 29, 2020


NS: “These figures are a reminder of the continuing impact of the pandemic, and how, despite the progress we have undoubtedly made, we should never underestimate how cruel a virus this can be.”

July 29, 2020

at 12.41pm BST

12.25pm BST

Scotland records small increase in weekly coronavirus death toll

Scotland recorded eight deaths from Covid-19 last week, an increase in two from the previous week but the second lowest seven-day total since early March, the statistics agency National Records of Scotland has said.

The weekly data, which covers all deaths with Covid-19 on the death certificate including those in the community where there was no positive Covid-19 test result, follows 15 days where there were no deaths in Scottish hospitals in confirmed cases.

Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister, said at her briefing that no new deaths had been recorded in confirmed patients overnight, but there were 22 positive cases yesterday, with 14 recorded in the greater Glasgow area suggesting a new cluster had emerged.

Sturgeon said there were only two people in intensive care, with no new Covid-19 admissions to intensive care since 9 July. That was another positive indicator the severity of the pandemic had lessened greatly in Scotland.

NRS said the proportion of Covid-19 cases of all fatalities fell to 1% in the week ending Sunday 26 July, leaving an overall total of 4,201 deaths attributed to the pandemic since the first recorded death in early March. At the peak of the pandemic, it accounted for 36% of all deaths in the week of 20 to 26 April.

The agency said a large majority of those deaths were amongst the oldest patients. From 16 March to 26 July, there were 32% more deaths than average in over 85s of which 21% involved Covid-19; there were 27% excess deaths in those 75 to 84, of which 19% were Covid-19; and 15% excess deaths amongst those 65-74, with 14% attributed to Covid-19.

Sturgeon is expected to announce a further but limited loosening of lockdown and social distancing rules tomorrow in the Scottish parliament.

12.18pm BST

The MRC Biostatistics Unit at Cambridge University, which is one of several teams around the country producing estimates of R number for coronavirus (the reproduction number, showing the extent to which it is spreading), has published new figures today. They are here.

It says R is “close to 1 in most regions of England” and that in the south-east and the south-west it is likely to be above one.

The report also says that the number of new infections each day in England is estimated to be 3,000 and that by mid August the number of deaths each day in England is expected to be running at between 43 and 84.

The government publishes its own estimate for R every Friday (based on research by about 10 different teams, including the MRC Biostatistics Unit). Last week it had R for England at between 0.8 and 1.

at 12.42pm BST

11.57am BST

Belgium, Luxembourg and Croatia may join Spain on England’s Covid-19 quarantine list

Travellers returning to England from Belgium and Luxembourg could have quarantine restrictions reimposed in the next two days, as ministers grapple to contain any fresh threat from a potential second wave of coronavirus in some European countries, my colleague Jessica Elgot reports. Ministers are understood to be closely monitoring spikes in the number of cases in Belgium and Luxembourg, as well as in Croatia, a more popular holiday destination for British tourists.

Jessica’s full story is here.

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