Record number of daily infections in Scotland as Nicola Sturgeon says imposing new restrictions 'not done lightly'

Nicola Sturgeon has defended the tougher new restrictions introduced in Scotland. Credit: ITV

A total of 486 people have tested positive for coronavirus in Scotland in the past 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said – the highest number of cases recorded in a single day in Scotland.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said two deaths of confirmed Covid-19 patients have been recorded in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,508.

She said 25,495 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 25,009 the day before.

This is 7.8% of newly-tested individuals, up from 7.6% yesterday.

Of the new cases, 224 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 107 in Lanarkshire and 57 in Lothian.

There are 83 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up by 10 in 24 hours.

Of these patients, 10 were in intensive care, no change on yesterday.

Credit: PA

Ms Sturgeon said she has not taken the decision to impose further coronavirus restrictions in Scotland lightly.

During her coronavirus briefing on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said she has written to the Prime Minister to ask for more powers or at least for an extension to the furlough scheme, which is due to end next month.

She said: “We mustn’t be hamstrung in essential public health decisions by the lack of necessary economic mitigations.

“All four UK nations agreed a joint statement to the effect that we would focus our efforts ‘on suppressing the virus to the lowest possible level and keeping it there’, and that is really positive.

“It puts aside forever the idea that we can just let this virus run, because we know it does real damage in lives and in health.

“There is an argument… that all of us across the UK should actually be doing even more right now and there is a danger that what starts to hold us back is not the public health analysis but financial limitations.”

Boris Johnson and Nicola Sturgeon have often clashed. Credit: PA

Earlier, speaking on ITV’s Good Morning Britain, she said “we are again at a tipping point with Covid.”

On the new measures announced in Scotland, she said: “Absolutely, it’s really tough, I haven’t done this lightly.

“I should say there are exemptions for people who need to care, child care, extended households, couples who don’t live together so we have been very careful to try to take into account the mental health implications.

“There is more flexibility outdoors for young people.”

She said Scotland and the UK were in a “tough spot” and warned “we are again at a tipping point with Covid”.

Ms Sturgeon added: “If we don’t act now, urgently and decisively, then we might find Covid running out of control again.

“The judgment I have made, and it is not an easy one, is if we take tough action now we might actually manage to be under these restrictions for a shorter period of time then we would end up being if we delayed that action.

“So these are tough judgments but I think, given the loss of life we know that Covid can result in, the health damage that it does, we’ve got to be prepared at moments like this, people like me, to take tough decisions and to be prepared to do things even if they are unpopular, for the greater good.”

Ms Sturgeon went on to apologise for “every death that has occurred” in care homes.

“These things will stay with me for the rest of my life… no leader worth their salt carries that lightly,” she said.

“I think if we could turn the clock back, there are things in many aspects in the handling of this pandemic, including in care homes, that we would undoubtedly do differently.”

She said changes had been made along the way and she was looking at how to protect people in care homes better going into winter as we now have more knowledge about the virus.

But the Scottish First Minister refused to directly criticise UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for failing to take action to prevent households from mixing indoors, as she has done.

She did say she believed governments should “try to co-ordinate as much as possible across the UK”.