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Coronavirus update: First Minister addresses concerns over schools

By Kyle Ritchie

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In Scotland in the last 24 hours there have been a total of 1264 positive cases which equates to 6.7 per cent of those tested overall.

NHS Greater Glasgow saw 420 cases, Lanarkshire 312 , Lothian 141 and Ayrshire 86 with the remaining cases across Scotland.

NHS Grampian saw 47 cases while NHS Highland saw a further 14 cases.

In the seven days to November 15 there were 159 cases in Aberdeenshire (60.9 per 100,000) and 137 in Aberdeen City (59.9 per 100,000).

A total of 54 deaths were also recorded in Scotland with Covid-19 as a contributing factor in the last 24 hours.

The First Minister addressed Coronavirus concerns over schools.
The First Minister addressed Coronavirus concerns over schools.

At the Scottish Government's daily briefing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "National Records of Scotland has also just published its weekly update, which, as you know, in addition to cases where Covid was confirmed through a test, records cases where it is a suspected or contributory cause of death.

"Today's update shows that, by last Sunday, the total number of registered deaths linked to Covid under that wider definition had, unfortunately, passed 5000.

"By Sunday it was 5135. 278 of those deaths were registered last week – that's 71 more than in the week before. 198 of last week's deaths occurred in hospital, 72 in care homes, and eight at home or in another non-institutional setting.

"Obviously each and every one of those deaths represents a unique individual whose loss will be causing grief and heartbreak – and once again I want to convey my deepest condolences to all of those who've lost a loved one during the pandemic.

"The figures I've just reported are obviously really grim and distressing. Some time in the future when we are through this pandemic, we will want to consider how, as a country, we commemorate the lives that the virus has taken.

"That is, though, for another day. But given that, with all the positive news about vaccines – and we're hearing more positive news today about the Pfizer vaccine – given all that means we may be starting to see the end point on the horizon."

The First Minister also addressed concerns about schools, particularly in level four areas.

She added: "Public Health Scotland has just published some statistics about levels of Covid amongst schoolchildren.

"They suggest that, in the first nine weeks of term after schools returned in August, out of 700,000 pupils in our schools, there were 1600 positive cases.

"To put that in context, that represents just over 0.2 per cent of pupils over that period. It's consistent with other evidence that Covid is responsible for a small proportion of absences from school.

"In addition, fewer than one-quarter of all schools in Scotland had any cases of Covid among pupils, and half of those had just one single case in the whole period.

"There were, as you might expect, more cases in secondary schools than there were in primary schools, but even so, fewer than half of secondary schools had any cases of Covid, and 78 per cent of schools overall had no cases at all.

"Where there were cases, that does not necessarily mean that Covid is transmitting in schools. The small percentage of pupils that tested positive supports other research showing that Covid cases in schools tend to come from the community, not from schools themselves."

The First Minister said she was not trying to deny some risk of transmission in schools and steps need to be continued to be taken to mitigate that.

She added: "But today's figures illustrate again, I think, how well councils, teachers, other school staff, and students, have worked to mitigate that risk."

The First Minister also covered travel restrictions for Scotland.

She said: "We are trying to avoid the whole country having to go into level four restrictions.

"To be blunt, we can only keep relatively low levels of restrictions in areas with low levels of the virus if we ensure that people don't travel to these areas from other parts of Scotland with high levels of the virus.

"If you live in a level one or two area, do not travel into a level three or four area except for essential purposes, and there should be no non-essential travel between Scotland and other parts of the UK.

"From Friday onwards this guidance will become law."

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