By NICOLA STURGEON, FIRST MINISTER
Currently, 1,317 people are in hospital with Covid, which is 66 fewer than yesterday, and 99 people are receiving intensive care, which is one fewer than yesterday. However, I am sorry to report that 64 more deaths were registered of patients who first tested positive in the previous 28 days, so the total number of people who have died, under that daily measurement, is now 6,828.
National Records of Scotland has just published its weekly update, which includes cases in which Covid is a suspected or contributory cause of death. Today’s update shows that, by Sunday, the total number of registered deaths that have been attributed to Covid under that wider definition was 953. Of those deaths, 323 were registered last week, which is 54 fewer than were registered in the previous week. Again, my condolences go to everyone who has lost someone.
Every death from Covid is deeply regrettable, and for that reason it never feels quite right for me to talk about encouraging news in the context of the NRS report.
However, there are aspects of today’s report that really do bear some emphasis, because they give us, I think, the first hard evidence of the positive impact of vaccination.
The number of deaths overall has fallen for three consecutive weeks. The number of deaths that have occurred in hospitals has fallen in that three-week period by 11 per cent, and the number of deaths that have occurred in people’s own homes or in other non-institutional settings has fallen by 29 per cent. However, the number of deaths in care homes, which were the early focus of the vaccination programme, has fallen by 62 per cent. In fact, with the exception of one week at the end of August, when only two Covid deaths overall were registered, care homes last week accounted for a smaller proportion of overall Covid deaths than at any time since March last year. That is positive news, given the toll that the virus has taken on our care homes.
More generally, the age breakdown of the total number of deaths in the past three weeks shows that the largest reduction, of 45 per cent, was in the over-85 age group. Of course, over-80s who are living in the community were the next priority focus of the programme.
It is reasonable to take some heart from that, because it strongly suggests that the vaccination programme is having the hoped-for effect of reducing the death toll from the virus.
On the vaccination programme more generally, I can report that, as of 8.30 this morning, 1,320,074 people had received the first dose, which is an increase of 32,070 since yesterday. As I indicated yesterday, we have offered first doses to all over-70s, all care home residents, all front-line health and care workers, and all people with a serious clinical vulnerability. In addition, 64 per cent of 65 to 69-year-olds have now received the first dose. Again, I thank everyone who has been involved in delivering the programme.
I highlight one final point. From tomorrow, the advice that is given to close contacts of people who test positive for Covid will change. As well as being asked to isolate for 10 days, they will now be asked, as a matter of course, to get tested as well. If they then test positive, their contacts will be traced and more chains of transmission will be broken. That is a further strengthening of test and protect.
As I confirmed yesterday, next week we will publish a revised strategic framework that will set out the data, principles and priorities that will guide our gradual exit from lockdown when the time is right. For now, if we want to maintain the good progress that we are seeing and avoid setbacks, we must stick with it. I therefore continue to urge people to stay at home, except for essential purposes, so that we can continue to protect the national health service and, of course, save lives.