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12 Jan, 58 tweets, 8 min read
First Minister @NicolaSturgeon: "Good afternoon, thanks very much for joining us again today. As usual, I will give you a run-through of the daily statistics, starting with the total number of positive cases reported yesterday."
NS: "That was 1,875, which is 12% of the total number of tests, and means that the number of confirmed cases in Scotland now stands at 153,423."
NS: "607 of the new cases were in Greater Glasgow & Clyde, 280 in Lanarkshire, 214 in Lothian and 162 in Ayrshire & Arran. The remaining cases are spread across 9 other health board areas."
NS: "As of yesterday I can also confirm that 175,942 people had received their first dose of vaccine. I can also tell you today that 1,717 people are currently in hospital. That's 53 more than yesterday."
NS: "That compares to a peak of just over 1,500 in the first wave back in April. So, again, we can see the very acute pressure that Covid is currently putting on our hospitals across the country."
NS: "133 people are receiving intensive care, which is an increase of 7 from yesterday, and I'm very sorry to report that 54 additional deaths have been registered in the past 24 hours of patients who first tested positive over the previous 28 days."
NS: "That takes the total number of deaths under this measurement to 5,023."
NS: "This is obviously always a distressing figure to report to you every day but it's particularly distressing today because the numbers I have just reported take the total number of deaths, under this daily measurement, now to more than 5,000."
NS: "Which is another reminder of the heartbreaking toll that this virus has taken and is continuing to take across the country."
NS: "Every single death is causing heartbreak to family, friends, loved ones, and I want again today to convey my thoughts and condolences to everybody who finds themselves in that position."
NS: "I'm joined today by the National Clinical Director. He is going to talk in a moment about NHS screening programmes for conditions such as breast cancer."
NS: "In doing that, he will highlight that our screening programmes are still running and anyone who has a screening appointment should turn up to it if at all possible."
NS: "Those are, of course, very important messages - so if you are due to be screened I would strongly encourage you to follow that advice."
NS: "Before Jason speaks, though, I've got a few brief points I want to update on. The first is I have just, earlier this morning, chaired the weekly meeting of the Scottish Cabinet."
NS: "As I indicated yesterday, one of the things we discussed is whether there are any areas, takeaway and click and collect services being two examples, where we think it's a need to further tighten restrictions."
NS: "To reduce the reasons for people to be out of their homes at the moment. We're continuing to consider these options a little bit further, and I can tell you that I will update Parliament tomorrow on any decisions that we reach over the course of the day."
NS: "The second thing I want to highlight is pre-departure testing for people who are travelling to Scotland from other countries."
NS: "We confirmed last week that we would introduce a requirement for pre-departure testing for anybody travelling here from overseas."
NS: "This requirement will come into effect from Friday morning, so anyone arriving in Scotland after 4AM on Friday morning will be required to produce evidence that they have received a negative test result from a Covid test that has been taken in the previous 3 days."
NS: "The nature of the test will be set out in regulations but it'll need to be highly reliable, and that means the test required will almost certainly be PCR tests."
NS: "There will be some limited exemptions from the requirement for a test - for example for younger children - but the details of who exactly will be exempt will be set out on the Scottish Government website."
NS: "I want to be very clear that this requirement for testing before entry into the country is seen, not as a substitute for other protections and mitigations in place, but as an addition to those."
NS: "Testing before entry to the country's not a magic solution to cases being imported, so it will reinforce rather than replace our current travel restrictions."
NS: "In particular, anyone travelling to Scotland from a country that's not on the exemption list will still require to quarantine, to self-isolate for 10 days on arrival."
NS: "And of course, any of these mitigations and protections should only be applying right now to a very small number of people. In short, to people who have an essential purpose to be travelling."
NS: "The most important point of all I can make in relation to travel remains this one - we should not, as a general rule, be travelling in and out of Scotland right now, just as we should not be travelling freely within the country."
NS: "It's only legal to travel to and from the country if you are doing so for an essential purpose. So the fundamental advice remains, do not travel right now unless you have a genuine purpose. Stay at home."
NS: "Now, the third issue I want to touch on is support for businesses. The Finance Secretary announced yesterday details of top-up grants that are being made available to businesses in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors."
NS: "These are worth up to £25,000 for larger premises. I can confirm today though that we're also making some one-off additional support available in Level 3 areas - so this affect Orkney, Shetland, the Western Isles and some Hebridean islands such as Mull, Jura and Islay."
NS: "As you will recall, these are the only parts of the country right now that are not in the tight Level 4 restrictions."
NS: "And the reason to make more support available there is that, in these areas, although they're not under quite as tight restrictions as mainland Scotland, businesses are often just as badly affected."
NS: "Hospitality, for example, is just as affected because even although it might not be under the same restrictions, travel is restricted and therefore the impact is quite severe. It's important that a compensation arrangement takes account of that."
NS: "So we'll be allocating approximately £3m to local authorities so that they are better able to support affected businesses."
NS: "The latest set of restrictions, I know, have been incredibly tough for businesses across the economy, but perhaps particularly for those in the hospitality, retail and leisure sectors..."
"..and we remain committed to working with those sectors to help them, as much as we can, get through the coming months."
NS: "So I hope that the announcements made yesterday and today reassure them of that commitment, as well as providing them with vital financial support."
NS: "Now, the final issue I want to touch on relates to one of the ways in which we try to track the course of the pandemic in Scotland."
NS: "In August, for those of you who have been regular viewers of these briefings, you may recall that we established two online surveys."
NS: "The surveys ask about a range of different topics - for example, how much contact people have with each other, and how regularly people are using face coverings."
NS: "These surveys have enabled us to identify and respond to emerging issues, for example, knowing if people are meeting up more often or less often is an early indication for us of whether we might see a rise in transmission rates two or three weeks down the line."
NS: "We are now seeking more volunteers for the surveys. We need 3,000 more volunteers. If you're interested in taking part, please look at the @scotgov twitter feed, where you'll find details of how to volunteer."
NS: "I should say, the surveys are not particularly time-consuming. You're asked to complete one every two weeks but they're a really important and really helpful way in which you can help us to understand the course of the pandemic..."
NS: "..and therefore help to inform and shape the decisions we have to take to try to keep the country as safe as possible and try and steer it through the next phase of the pandemic."
NS: "I'd encourage you to look at @scotgov's twitter feed now or in the next few days and if you have the time and the inclination - although it doesn't take a lot of time - please consider signing up."
NS: "You'll be doing a lot to help, not just the Government, but by extension the whole country, to get through this period."
NS: "Now, I'm going to hand over to Jason in a moment but before that let me just emphasise again our key public health advice. The main message at the moment is a very simple one but it is a vital one."
NS: "You see it on the poster behind me now - stay at home. In all of Scotland, apart from the islands I spoke about a moment ago, you must only leave home for genuinely essential purposes right now."
NS: "That includes caring responsibilities, work that genuinely can't be done at home, essential shopping. Outdoors you can only meet with one other person from one other household."
NS: "And I would repeat and underline the point I made yesterday. Going out for exercise should be that right now, not going out on a beach, particularly not going to places that might be crowded."
NS: "The stay at home rule right now is intended to stop people interacting, and that is as important right now outside as it is inside. In addition, please work from home if you possibly can."
NS: "To employers, enable and facilitate your staff to work from home, if you can."
NS: "And of course, remember the FACTS advice. Wear face coverings when you are out and about, for example, doing essential shopping."
NS: "I welcome some of the announcements of commitments that have been by some supermarkets yesterday, make sure they're playing their part in helping encourage the use fo face coverings."
NS: "Avoid places that are busy - that includes parks, outdoors. Clean your hands, clean surfaces regularly. Keep two-metres distance if you are with somebody from another household."
NS: "Self-isolate, and get tested, if you have any of the symptoms of Covid. All of these measures are still effective, even against this faster spreading variant of the virus, and it's really important that we remember them."
NS: "On the subject of the faster COVID variant, our research suggests that is now the dominant strain circulating in Scotland. Over 60% of cases in our most recent days have been of that new variant, using the proxy S gene dropout test that is used."
NS: "So that's why it's more important that, on any occasion we are out, we are taking all of these mitigatting steps."
NS: "But fundamentally, the best way of protecting yourself, others, and the NHS right now, is to stay at home. I cannot emphasise that strongly enough.

So please stay at home, protect the NHS, and save lives."

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