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Coronavirus in Scotland: Shielding extended until 31 July

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image captionPeople in the shielding category include those with certain types of cancer

The shielding of those who are most at risk if they become infected with Covid-19 should continue until 31 July, the first minister has said.

The Scottish government's original advice was to shield until 18 June, but this has now been extended until "at least" the end of July.

However, Nicola Sturgeon said the group would be able to go outside for exercise from 18 June.

Currently the advice is to stay at home and not go outside at all.

There are about 180,000 people in Scotland who are shielding because they are at the greatest risk of becoming seriously ill or dying from the virus.

It includes people who have had certain types of cancer and those who have severe respiratory conditions or who have received solid organ transplants.

Those who are affected will receive a letter from the chief medical officer explaining the latest guidance.

Outdoor exercise will be allowed from next week as the evidence now shows the risk of outdoor infection is low, but "strict physical distancing" should be observed.

Addressing the shielding group directly during her daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: "Despite the progress that has been made in reducing levels of Covid in the community, the virus still poses a very significant threat to you.

"I'm afraid therefore that our recommendation at this stage is that you should continue to shield until 31 July.

"We are, however, likely to amend our current guidance so that from next week you can go out to exercise."

Support such as free weekly grocery boxes and priority home delivery from supermarkets will continue, the first minister said.

She added: "I promise you, we are not going to forget about you between now and the end of July."

Ms Sturgeon also offered a "deep and sincere" apology after almost 18,000 people received letters in April informing them that the shielding period was due to end on 8 June.

"There was an administrative error in a portion of the letters, which was corrected," the first minister said.

The Scottish government said the guidance on shielding would be kept under review with changes only being made when it was "safe to do so".

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