By First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Yesterday, 591 new cases were reported, which is 2.5 per cent of all the tests that were carried out. That takes the total number of confirmed cases to 207,747. There are 556 people in hospital, which is 26 fewer than yesterday, and 42 people are in intensive care, which is seven fewer than yesterday.
I regret to report that a further 22 deaths have been registered of people who first tested positive for Covid in the previous 28 days, which means that the total number of people who have died, under the daily measurement, is now 7,483. Once again, I send my deepest condolences to everyone who has lost a loved one.
I turn to the vaccination programme. As of 8.30 this morning, 1,825,800 people had received their first dose of the vaccine, which is an increase of 16,642 people since yesterday. In addition, 141,433 people have received their second dose, which is an increase of 8,673 people since yesterday. In total, 25,315 people received a vaccination yesterday.
From tomorrow, Public Health Scotland will make changes to its Covid dashboard to improve the reporting of vaccine uptake among health and care workers and care home residents.
I confirm that virtually all those over 65 have now had their first dose, as have 45 per cent of 60 to 64-year-olds, 38 per cent of 55 to 59-year-olds and 31 per cent of 50 to 54-year-olds. We remain on track to offer first doses to everyone over 50, all unpaid carers and all adults with underlying health conditions by mid-April.
It is exactly a year ago today that the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic. The past 12 months have been incredibly—indeed, unimaginably—tough for everybody, but, as I indicated on Tuesday, we now have real grounds for optimism, albeit cautious optimism. The numbers of cases, hospitalisations and deaths have all fallen in recent weeks, and when we publish the latest estimate of the R number later today, we expect to show that it remains below 1. The vaccination programme has now given a first dose to 40 per cent of the adult population, and it is set to significantly accelerate over the next few weeks.
Because of that continued progress, I confirm that we will go ahead as planned with the next stage of the reopening of schools on Monday. In addition, changes to the rules on outdoor meetings and activities, which I set out on Tuesday, will come into force tomorrow. Further, as I have indicated, I will provide more information next Tuesday about our plans for the phased reopening of the economy.
Those plans will take account of the positive news that we see at the moment, but they will acknowledge the risks that we still face. Case numbers are still high and the new variant is highly infectious, so we must continue to exercise caution. For that reason, my advice to everyone is to continue to follow the same stay-at-home rule for now: stay at home except for essential purposes and follow the FACTS advice when you are out.