Health officials have estimated more than 65,000 people in Scotland could now have coronavirus.
Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calederwood revealed the figure – a rise on Thursday’s estimate of between 40,000 and 50,000 – as the confirmed number of positive covid-19 cases in the country rose by 165 to 1,059.
It comes as the Scottish Government ramped up its support for mental health services ahead of the country’s first weekend in lockdown.
Another eight people have died after contracting covid-19, bringing Scotland’s death toll to 33. Seventy-two people are now in intensive care after testing positive for the disease.
Speaking at a briefing in St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, Dr Calderwood said most of the 65,000 people estimated to have contracted the virus in Scotland will either be unaware they have it or have been self-isolating after suffering symptoms.
“There will come a time that I will be able to talk to you about the numbers being infected and that rate slowing, but that time is not yet and that time will not be for some weeks to come”, she said.
“I was quoted yesterday in some of the press as estimating there were somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 people in Scotland with coronavirus.
“While it is dangerous to go day-by-day I want to really emphasis that I would now be estimating that there are more than 65,000 people in Scotland infected.
“The importance there is that only 1000 have been confirmed. So the vast majority of those people maybe don’t realise they have coronavirus or perhaps have symptoms, and thank you to them for self-isolating and keeping away from other people.”
It comes as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced fresh mental health support for the nation ahead of the country’s first weekend on lockdown.
NHS mental health support lines will soon be manned 24 hours a day after a £3.8 million boost.
Speaking at the press conference, Ms Sturgeon said: “I spoke earlier in the week about the importance of looking after mental health during this period as well as our physical health.
“I can confirm today we are putting an additional £3.8 million immediately into NHS mental health support services.
“Half a million of that will support the Breathing Space phone line and web service and £2.1 million will be for the NHS mental health hub which offers advice on well-being and mental health issues to people who have called the NHS 24 service.
“In the coming weeks the hub will be taking on more staff and be available 24 hours a day. A dedicated mental health page has also been added to NHS Inform.”
Talking about the weekend ahead Ms Sturgeon said: “We are about to go into our first weekend since lockdown measures were announced.
“I know many will be struggling with being cooked up in the house as you are just now.
“It is vital that all of us stick with this. The most important thing all of us can do is to follow the advice and stay at home wherever possible.”
It comes as Ms Sturgeon said that new police powers to enforce social distancing rules during the lockdown officially came into force on Thursday night.
They mean businesses in breach of social distancing rules could be forced to close and people found leaving their homes for anything other than a “reasonable purpose” may be fined or face prosecution.
Ms Sturgeon added: “The regulations which gives power to enforce these rules came into force last night.”
She also praised Scotland’s police for doing an “exceptional job” under “real pressure” during the pandemic.
It comes as Dr Calderwood said Thursday night’s Clap for Carers, which she took part in, was the first time she had cracked a smile “for quite some time”, adding: “I am very proud to be part of the NHS.
“My NHS colleagues really appreciate it. You are keeping them safe so they can keep us alive.”
Students to help man Scotland’s mental health phonelines
Health minister Jeane Freeman said clinical psychology students are among those being called up to help man mental health helplines in Scotland in the coming weeks.
Speaking about the £3.8 million of funding, she added: “We understand this particular time is causing people real anxiety and concern.
“NHS 24 has already seen an increase in the number of calls they are taking, so the £3.8 million does two things.
“In particular it does allow us to scale up the mental health hub to 24 hour cover by bringing in additional psychological well-being practitioners and mental health nurse practitioners.
“We will also benefit from the involvement of clinical psychology students.
“That will allow us to increase both the telephone and web chat Breathing Space offer for individuals, but also of course for our NHS and social care staff.”
The funding will also allow for treatment for those suffering from the likes of anxiety, depression and sleeping problems via digital cognitive behavioural therapy .
‘Protocols in place to test senior figures in government’
Protocols are in place to test the most senior members of the Scottish and UK governments whose roles have been deemed key in the fight against coronavirus.
Dr Calderwood said procedures are in place to test political figures including Ms Sturgeon for covid-19 – but only for clinical reasons.
She added: “The four chief medical officers have discussed and agreed a protocol for very senor people in government to be tested only if there are clinical reasons.
“In the first instance, as you would know, the test is not going to be positive or useful if people don’t have the appropriate clinical symptoms.
“But also this would be for significant people the loss of whom would make a big difference to our coronavirus effort.”
Ms Sturgeon sent her “best wishes” to the Tory leader as she confirmed she had not yet been tested herself.
She said: “I don’t underestimate how difficult it is for anybody to be positive for this virus so I’m certainly sending my best wishes to him.
“Should I as First Minister experience symptoms. If I needed clinical advice obviously I would take that from my own GP.
“I would follow all the advice that I am asking others to follow.”