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First Minister’s Briefing 16th December

During her media briefing, the First Minister covered the following (16/12/20):

  • The FM confirmed that additional 689 new cases of COVID-19 had been identified, bringing the total to 108438. She also confirmed that 1031 people were in hospital, with 49 in ICUs. She further confirmed that there had been 38 additional deaths reported in the previous 24 hours bringing the total to 4973.
  • The FM acknowledged the recent update from National Records of Scotland which confirmed that there had been 6092 deaths linked to COVID-19 registered in Scotland.
  • The FM noted a recent period 32hours during which more notifications were issued than would normally be expected, due to an upgrade, and that the issue had been resolved. She advised those who had received alerts during this time (from 00:01 on Monday) to contact the advice line to check if they do, in fact, need to self-isolate.
  • The FM drew attention to Public Health Scotland’s weekly reports. She focused particularly on those findings relating to schools, noting that 2/3rds of schools had not had any pupil cases. She also noted that teachers appeared to be at no greater risk from COVID-19 and that some figures showed them to be of lesser risk. Overall, she claimed that these figures showed that the decision to keep schools open had been vindicated.
  • The FM also said the figures showed that the asymptomatic testing pilots had worked and were being expanded.
  • The FM noted the results of the recent talks with the other UK governments on preparations for Christmas. She said that updated guidance, on a four nations basis, would be issued later today once discussions had concluded. She also stressed the need for flexibility and caution and said that the Scottish Government would be tightening the rules previously announced. In summary, she said:
    • If at all possible, people should stay home or meet outdoors and that the duration in which they are in other people’s homes should be limited. She stressed that no more than eight people from a maximum of three households should meet. 
    • She urged Scots to make only the most essential travel and to take the strictest possible hygiene measures.
  • The FM closed her briefing as normal by summarising the rules in place and reiterating the FACTS guidance.
  • The Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Dr Nicola Steedman, joined the FM to provide an update on vaccinations. She noted that 18644 people had received their first dose of the vaccine. She called the vaccine a “game-changer” and urged those who are called to receive it to take it up. 
  • During the following questions, the BBC asked if the FM would consider further restrictions during Christmas or if today was her “last word” on the issue. The FM said that it would not be advisable to make this her definitive statement but that flexibility may be required. SKY News also asked if the FM agreed with the PM who announced, while she was speaking, that the four nations had “agreed in principle” to the relaxing of restrictions. The FM noted that she hadn’t heard what the PM had said and that she was sticking by her previous statements throughout today’s statement. ITV Border raised the issue of people from other parts of the UK coming home to Scotland over Christmas and if they should cancel. The Daily Express asked for the Scottish Government’s advice on public transport and enforcement. The FM noted that further advice would be published later but that she encouraged Scots to “stay local”.

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