Nicola Sturgeon says the country is to face 'the biggest challenge of our lifetimes'

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Nicola Sturgeon has repeated the UK government’s call for restaurants, cafes, pubs, gyms and cinemas across Scotland to close, telling the public that staying at home “will save lives”.

Speaking in a televised address from Bute House in Edinburgh, the First Minister warned the number of Covid-19 cases is "set to rise sharply" and the country is to face the “biggest challenge of our lifetimes.”

She stressed the importance of everyone acting together to reduce contact between people in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus.

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The new advice was given after discussions with scientists and chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.

Nicola Sturgeon says COVID-19 is the 'biggest challenge of our lifetimes'Nicola Sturgeon says COVID-19 is the 'biggest challenge of our lifetimes'
Nicola Sturgeon says COVID-19 is the 'biggest challenge of our lifetimes'

Ms Sturgeon said: "I know how difficult this is. But it is vital to reduce our risk of getting the virus.

"And to reduce the risk of infecting those who are most vulnerable of becoming seriously ill or dying. In short, it will save lives.

"It also gives our NHS the best chance of coping. We've put the NHS on an emergency footing. We're taking steps to increase the capacity of our hospitals and intensive care wards.

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"But those who work in our health and social care services will be tested like never before.

"Most of us have friends and family working in the NHS - my own sister and sister-in-law are among them. The debt of gratitude we owe all of them is enormous.

"The Scottish Government will do all we can to support you.

"As government, we are asking you to take unprecedented steps. So the level of support we provide to you must be unprecedented in return."

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UK pubs, restaurants, cinemas and gyms ordered to close amid coronavirus battle

During her address the First Minister said the country is "entering stormy waters" and asked both young and old to follow measures in place.

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She said: "To older people - we are asking you to stay away from your grandkids, from the people you love.

"That's hard. But it is for your protection, so you can stay around to see them grow up.

"To children - I know this is a strange time. You're away from school, and won't be able to spend as much time with friends.

"The adults around you are probably feeling a bit anxious too. So help them. Follow their advice. Study and do your homework. But don't forget to have fun. And wash your hands.

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"Modern technology is sometimes a curse, it can now be a lifeline.

"Phone or Skype loved ones. Text neighbours or drop a note through their door to see if they need help. Maybe even write a letter to your grandparents."

Ms Sturgeon also told people to support their local businesses where possible, "but please, do not panic buy".

Earlier on Friday she had suggested Scots could face "even stricter and more difficult" measures to help curb the spread.

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Dr Calderwood also said there is "evidence of sustained community transmission across Scotland".

She warned: "We are on the cusp of a rapid acceleration of cases of coronavirus in Scotland.

"We have seen increased numbers day on day in the past week or two, and we also have evidence of sustained community transmission across Scotland.

"All of the scientific advice tells us these measures will be effective to slow the spread of the virus, to prevent many people becoming so sick that they are admitted to hospital and sadly dying because of the disease.

"But the measures will not be effective if people don't comply with them."

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