The First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon along with the Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood and Health Secretary Jeane Freeman briefed the media just after lunchtime today from St Andrew’s House.
The Chief Medical Officer warned today that the current lockdown could continue until June to make sure that the spread of the virus is restricted, and that the NHS is not overwhelmed.
The CMO explained that the figures will be reviewed in two to three weeks after the lockdown started, and from those figures, the future range of measures will be determined.
The First Minister said there are about 800 tests being conducted each day, and that the capacity will be increased soon with a new lab in Glasgow in the next two or three weeks. The government wants to test key workers as well as for reasons of surveillance.
Ms Sturgeon said: “On Friday, we acknowledged that this would be a weekend unlike any that any of us have experienced previously. I know that staying at home, not going out to meet up with friends and family is a really, really difficult thing to do. And even harder this time of year when we occasionally see the sun shining. So I’m very grateful to everyone who tries to continue to do the right thing by staying at home.
“All of you are helping us to slow the spread of this disease, helping us to protect the NHS and ultimately helping us to save lives.”
She also set out a new strategy for delivery of PPE equipment from tomorrow. She said: “I can confirm today some new steps to improve even further the supply of PPE for those who are working in frontline.
“Over the past four to six weeks, around 34 million items of PPE have been delivered to hospitals across Scotland that are providing care for Covid-19 cases and other conditions. In addition, all health boards now have a single point of contact to manage local PPE supply and distribution That should help to ensure that the right equipment reaches the people who need it.
“This week, we’ll also deliver up front eight weeks worth of PPE to all GP surgeries. These deliveries will start tomorrow and should be completed by the end of the week.
“We’re employing additional staff to meet the need to prepare PPE orders for the social care sector.
“To meet the demand in the care sector, we are employing additional delivery drivers, making greater use of longer delivery hours and using more external delivery companies. Taking all of this together, I want to underline the fact that we are committed – absolutely committed – to the safety and well being of all of those who work in the health and social care services.”
St Andrew’s House will be lit up in rainbow colours this evening to highlight the country’s united vision in dealing with the pandemic.
The First Minister set out the arrangements for those who want to voluntee. She said that from tomorrow there will be a new campaign called Scotland Cares, which will encourage people to volunteer that are in a position to do so and make it easier for them to register their interest in doing so.
She said: “From tomorrow to take part and register interest as a volunteer people should go to the ReadyScotland.org website, where they will be able to choose from various options, Firstly if you are a returning health and care service worker you’ll be directed to information about the arrangements that are currently in place in NHS Scotland.
“If you want to volunteer more generally to help the NHS or the wider response effort the site will direct use information about becoming a community reserve volunteer. And we’re very grateful to one of the partners we are working with – The Red Cross – who will be coordinating community reserve volunteers across the country. The site will also provide information about volunteering opportunities with existing organisations through Volunteer Scotland.”
The Health Secretary Jeane Freeman confirmed that today in Scotland there is enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the next six weeks. She also said that there are four direct distribution routes to those who need it from hospitals to social care workers.
And in addition the Health Secretary confirmed that the government will reinforce the message to everyone working in the NHS to ensure that workers know exactly what they are to use.
Scottish Greens Parliamentary Co-Leader Alison Johnstone MSP welcomed the First Minister’s announcement thatThe Scottish Government will launch the ‘Scotland Cares’ volunteering initiative tomorrow but has warned that frontline workers need clearer answers on PPE.
Alison Johnstone MSP said:“I am pleased that the Scottish Government has announced that it plans to establish an initiative for volunteers to support our dedicated healthcare workers. In the face of this unprecedented emergency our frontline staff are facing huge pressure and that is likely to be ramped up in the weeks ahead. Anything we can do to support those key workers is very welcome.
“The First Minister told us that 34 million items of personal protective equipment have arrived during recent weeks. Healthcare workers and other emergency staff are raising concerns that this equipment isn’t reaching the frontline. It is vital that the Scottish Government ensures the staff who are going the extra mile for us all, have the necessary equipment readily available to allow them to do their jobs safely.”