FMQs: Scotland 'unlikely' to contain coronavirus outbreak says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland may soon enter the second phase of dealing with coronavirus.Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland may soon enter the second phase of dealing with coronavirus.
Nicola Sturgeon has said Scotland may soon enter the second phase of dealing with coronavirus.
Nicola Sturgeon has said that it is "increasingly unlikely" Scotland will be able to contain the outbreak of coronavirus indefinitely.

The First Minister said that the country could soon move into the second phase of dealing with the virus.

Scottish health services are currently in the "contain phase" of responding to coronavirus, but the next stage is the "delay" phase, when measures will be ramped up to slow the spread of the disease.

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Coronavirus in Scotland: Three more cases confirmed

In a sombre First Minister's Questions she was asked by Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw about the capacity of the two Scottish testing centres to cope with "anticipated demand".

Ms Sturgeon said: "We face a potentially very serious situation and all of us have a responsibility to work together.

"As of this morning we have six confirmed cases. I would expect that to rise, possible very rapidly we make sure confirmed cases are isolated and contacts are traced and given appropriate advice, and if the public follow the advice on hands and other personal hygiene, then we can continue to have a degree of success in stopping the spread from individual to individual and it's imperative we do that for as long as possible.

"That said, it looks increasingly unlikely we will be able to contain this outbreak indefinitely, so therefore it's likely we will move into the delay phase of the virus and that may be reasonably soon but that will be guided by the best scientific advice.

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"In that phase the focus is on seeking to slow down the spread of the virus and reduce the peak - the number of people infected at any one time - and it's important as we take decisions around that they are informed by good quality scientific advice."

Asked by Mr Carlaw about a possible need for emergency hospital beds, she said it was among the things the government was "currently assessing and it would be premature to give numbers on that right now. But it's likely we will need increased facilities for hospital care, but also be prepared to treat more people in the community so that the hospital capacity is there for people who need it most."

The First Minister also said it was important to be "very frank and honest" with the public and to give as "much information as possible" but without "sensationalising" the issue, as that could lead to heightened anxieties.

"Although there are big numbers being cited, we are planning on worst case scenarios and whatever the numbers turn out to be, the vast majority of people will have mild symptoms."

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Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard raised concerns about delayed discharge from hospitals, which could affect how coronavirus patients are dealt with in the community, and the impact of plans to close NHS laundries.

Ms Sturgeon said: "There is an intense focus on ensuring we can discharge people when appropriate and the Health Secretary will keep Parliament updated and the Budget, later today, will see increased resources for local authorities and in particular social care.

She added: "The laundry board has been developing an action plan but no proposals have yet come to ministers to consider. The final decision will be taken by the Health Secretary, and the current and emerging situation with coronavirus will be very much a factor in deciding the best way forward. There will be no plans approved by the Scottish Government that we think in any way puts at risks the steps we need to take to deal with this situation."

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