Nicola Sturgeon: 'A rising Covid death toll is not inevitable'

The First Minister said that new household restrictions had “blunted" a rise in Covid cases in the west of Scotland, and that a similar impact would be seen across Scotland next month.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 3:19 pm
Updated Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 3:32 pm
Nicola Sturgeon has said the impact of restrictions put in place last week should show in reduced case figures in a month.
Nicola Sturgeon has said the impact of restrictions put in place last week should show in reduced case figures in a month.

At her daily Covid briefing Ms Sturgeon announced that seven people have died from coronavirus in the last 24 hours – the highest number recorded since June 17 – but stressed the public should not have to prepare for further deaths.

“I’ve got to be clear with the public about the consequences of this virus should it get out of control again, because by the time you're reporting deaths these figures are reflecting infections that will have happened three or four weeks previously, so as infections started to rise a few weeks ago the impact of that will inevitably come through unfortunately," she said. “But we mustn’t just accept that a rising death toll or hospitalisation rate or infection rate is inevitable."

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The First Minister said that the reduction in cases over the summer proved Scots were not "powerless” in the face of the global pandemic. “We know how this virus is spread so we know how to stop it spreading. All of us, each one of us, actually can influence the picture we see in weeks to come, by sticking to the rules."

She added: “People who advise me are of the view that the household restrictions in the west of Scotland have blunted the rise in infections we were seeing when we put those restrictions in place. That didn't mean they started to fall immediately but the rate of increase slowed.

"University clusters are confusing the overall picture but there's a very strong view among those who advise me, that if we restrict different households coming together in our own homes then we reduce the virus spreading, so it will have an impact in slowing down, and then reducing, the spread. So stick with the restrictions, they're really hard but very effective.”

Ms Sturgeon said that the death figures revealed today would not influence government actions. “A single day's figures don't tell you everything about the trends. We look at seven day averages in the main given the potential volatility in single day figures.

"However we reckon, through modelling, that if we do nothing right now we are possibly on the same trajectory as France and Spain. There the increase in cases among the younger population started a few weeks before us, then to older age groups and hospital cases started to rise, numbers in intensive care, and then deaths – though not to same levels we saw earlier in the year."

She said while the daily testing figures of today – 600 cases - would likely be compared with those in March and April when numbers were between 400 and 500, this was not "valid”.

"We were testing fewer people, so they were likely to be a smaller tip of a bigger iceberg, while the tests we’re doing now allow us to more accurately reflect actual levels of infections."

She added: “We mustn't think anything is inevitable. this virus thrives when we give it opportunities to do, it dies if we take those opportunities away. The measures we introduced last week, a month from now should start to have an impact on the figures.”

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