By First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

The total number of cases that were reported yesterday was 933, which is 4.7 per cent of all tests reported.

Therefore, the total number of cases is 103,305. There are currently 984 people in hospital, which is 12 more than yesterday, and there are 52 people in intensive care, which is two more than yesterday.

I very much regret to report that, in the past 24 hours, a further 50 deaths were registered of patients who had first tested positive in the previous 28 days. The total number of people who have died under that daily measurement is now 4,039

The fact that the number of deaths using that measure has passed 4,000 should cause a moment of reflection—not least because it reminds us yet again of the dreadful toll that the virus takes. Again, my condolences go to everyone who has lost a loved one.

I will briefly mention two other points. First, we will shortly publish the latest estimate of the reproduction number. We expect that it will show that the R number has fallen further below 1, which is confirmation that the restrictions that are in place are having the desired effect. That progress is why, on Tuesday, we were able to indicate that 16 local authority areas will move into a lower level of restrictions from tomorrow. That is good news, but as I have stressed already, that makes it all the more important that everyone shows caution.

Secondly, I am able to give the first of what will be weekly reports on the numbers of people who have been vaccinated against Covid. I confirm that over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday a total of 5,330 people in Scotland received the first dose of the vaccine. During those first two days, vaccinations took place in all health board areas, with the exceptions of Shetland and the Western Isles, although vaccinations in those areas will start this week.

I thank everyone who has been involved in ensuring that the programme got off to a positive start, because we know that this is a major undertaking in which there are significant logistical challenges. We will publish weekly updates on the vaccination programme, from next Wednesday onwards.

We can all be hopeful that the start of vaccinations marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic for Scotland, but the coming months will still be difficult, so we should all do everything that we can to keep ourselves and our loved ones safe. I ask everyone who is in a local authority area that is moving down a level tomorrow to remember that that is a move that will bring risks, so please continue to be cautious, and try to limit your interactions with others as much as possible.

The fact is that every time we come into contact with someone from another household, whether it is in a shop or a cafe or at work, we give the virus the opportunities that it craves, so we should try to limit those interactions as much as we can.

As restrictions have eased in other parts of the UK, case numbers have started to rise again; that is a real risk that we face here, too. The only way to mitigate that is for all of us to be ultra-cautious and careful, to stick rigidly to the rules and to remember that just because we can do something that does not mean, in the current circumstances, that we should.

I remind everybody that the postcode checker on the Scottish Government’s website is there for anybody who wants to know what the rules are in their area.

To summarise, I ask people, please, not to visit other people’s homes at the moment, to stick to the rules on travel, and to follow FACTS: use face coverings; avoid crowded places; clean your hands and surfaces regularly; keep 2m distant from people in other households; and self-isolate and get tested if you have symptoms.

As always, doing all those things is the best way we have of protecting ourselves, our loved ones and communities, and of protecting the national health service, as we go further into winter.

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