A priority of imminent measures to tackle a resurgence of the coronavirus is to keep schools open, Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has said.
She made her comments at a briefing this afternoon and said she would be speaking to prime minister Boris Johnson directly afterwards, before she announces the Scottish response either tomorrow or on Wednesday.
Ms Sturgeon spoke soon after a UK government briefing, during which chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance showed that the country was heading for 50,000 Covid-19 cases per day next month if the rate of spread of the virus is not brought down.
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Ms Sturgeon said that "what we've tried to do over the weekend is look at all possible options, analyse and consider the impact that they would have individually and collectively, and try to come to a considered package of measures with the clear objective in mind of trying to take the R number [the Covid-19 rate of reproduction] from where it is right now – which is above one – back below one".
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She said that "to do all that, we hope, [will allow] keeping schools open, because we have prioritised since the middle of the summer the importance of having young people back in education".
Ms Sturgeon said that she hoped Mr Johnson would convene a meeting of the Cobra emergency committee shortly, and that the various UK governments would come up with a coordinated response to the rising number of coronavirus cases. If not, she added, she would still reveal the Scottish government's response by Wednesday at the latest.
Earlier today, Scotland's health secretary, Jeane Freeman, said six months was a “more realistic” time frame for any new Covid-19 restrictions to be in place.
She made her comments on BBC Radio Scotland after The Times reported a warning from Downing Street that new restrictions in England could be in place for six months.
Previously, when further lockdown measures were applied in places such as Aberdeen after an outbreak, an initial length of restriction was announced, with periodic reviews to track progress.
In the UK government Covid briefing this morning, Professor Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer, warned that a tough winter lay ahead.
He said: “At this point, the seasons are against us. We’re now going into the seasons – late autumn and winter – which benefit respiratory viruses, and it is very likely they will benefit Covid, as they do, for example, flu.
“So we should see this as a six-month problem that we have to deal with collectively. It’s not indefinite.”