Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon says virus is spreading again in Scotland

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Image source, PA Media

Nicola Sturgeon has warned that coronavirus is spreading again in Scotland as she defended restrictions that have been imposed in the Glasgow area.

A further 101 cases have been confirmed in Scotland - 53 of them in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area.

Ms Sturgeon said the transmission rate of the virus had increased slightly over the past week.

And she said doing nothing to stop the spread was not an option.

The first minister warned that the recent increase in cases "should be a wakeup call for all of us" in sticking to rules and helping to suppress the spread of Covid-19.

Restrictions on visiting other households were reintroduced in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire earlier this week in response to concerns about a rising number of cases in the area.

However, the 53 new cases in Greater Glasgow and Clyde on Thursday was lower than the previous day's figure of 86.

At her daily coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the "R number" - effectively the reproduction rate of the virus - was now above one, and potentially as high as 1.4.

She said this "is of slightly less concern when the overall prevalence of the virus is low".

But she added: "Nevertheless, this is a reminder that the virus is spreading again just as it is elsewhere in the UK and Europe and across the world."

Image source, Scottish government
Image caption,
Ms Sturgeon said the recent rise in cases should be a wake-up call for the country

The first minister said: "The situation in these parts of Greater Glasgow and Clyde I really think should be a wake up call for all of us.

"Numbers of new cases are high in those areas and that's why we've had to impose some restrictions, but new cases have been increasing in many parts of Scotland in the past fortnight.

"All of us, wherever we live, have to be more careful than ever about sticking to all of the rules and guidance and trying to minimise the chances we're giving the virus to spread."

There has been some criticism of the decision to impose restrictions on household meetings in the Glasgow area while leaving hospitality venues like bars and restaurants open.

Pubs across Aberdeen were closed last month and travel restrictions imposed in response to an outbreak in the city - leading to claims of a "west coast bias".

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Image caption,
Pubs in Aberdeen were closed in response to a cluster of cases in the city - but have remained open in Glasgow

The first minster said she knew it could appear "counter-intuitive and difficult for people to understand" why similar measures had not been introduced in Glasgow.

But said she was now able to pursue a "much more targeted and much more proportionate" response to local clusters.

She said: "What we know from the analysis so far is that there is not - as there was in Aberdeen - an obvious connection between positive cases and pubs and clubs. It appears that it is more household transmission.

"I want to be clear that it is not just house parties. There might be an element of that, but it is also family transmission in smaller gatherings, where the virus spread from one household to another but it might just be an extended family coming in."

Ms Sturgeon said it was this information that led to the decision to impose household restrictions but not close pubs.

'Targeted and proportionate'

The first minister added: "The analysis we now get through test and protect enables us to be much more targeted and proportionate rather than what we were faced with earlier in the year of simply imposing a blanket lockdown everywhere that really meant everybody had to stay at home.

"Because these decisions have been guided by the analysis that has been done, hopefully these measures are effective - but of course we can't know that for sure."

Ms Sturgeon insisted that "nobody is being punished" by the measures, and said she has had to cancel a visit to her own parents as a result of the new restrictions.

She said: "I wish we could say we have a cluster here that was caused definitively by one person, and we put them under restrictions, but that's not how a virus operates.

"The risk is that it spreads in all sorts of different ways and unfortunately it is population-based measures we have to use to stop that happening."