Nicola Sturgeon has warned the coronavirus outbreak may “spread out of control” if strict lockdown measures are ignored over the Easter weekend.
Ms Sturgeon said some Scots could be tempted to flout the rules as the country enters its third week of social distancing but warned even “one little slip” could bear enormous risks to the public.
The message came as it was announced a further 48 people have died from Covid-19, taking the total number of deaths in Scotland to 495.
Some 5,275 people have tested positive for the virus, an increase of 318 from official Scottish Government figures released on Thursday. 1,832 are currently in hospital with confirmed of suspected cases of Covid-19, a rise of 51 from yesterday.
Ms Sturgeon said the number of people in intensive care overnight was 207, a fall of five, but warned against reading to much into the decrease.
Speaking during a daily briefing in Edinburgh with chief constable Iain Livingstone and national clinical director Professor Jason Leitch, she urged the public to stay home until the lockdown is lifted.
“None of us, including me, want these restrictions to be in place for a single moment longer than they need to be but we cannot allow ourselves to become complacent against this virus and end these measures prematurely,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“If we did that, we would risk undoing all of the work we’ve put in so far and we would risk seeing the virus spread out of control, potentially very quickly, and we know that would cost more lives.
“So all of us most continue to comply with the rules because that gives us our best chance of slowing the spread of the virus, protecting our National Health Service and, of course, saving lives”.
The first minister admitted she worries about the public “tiring” of the lockdown and is aware some people “find it more difficult to comply with these rules with every day that passes”.
She stressed the restrictions would not be kept in place “for a minute longer than is necessary” but said it remains the view of health professionals that they remain both necessary and vital.
“This virus hasn’t gone away – as we see from the figures – and if we stop these measures prematurely, this virus will start to spread out of control very quickly,” she said.
“That will very quickly overpower our National Health Service and will very quickly see numbers of people who lose their lives to this virus rise even beyond the horrible numbers that I have to stand here and report every day.
“That is why we need to stick with this.”
Relaunching the Scottish domestic abuse campaign, Ms Sturgeon said support services and a 24-hour helpline are still there for those in need during the pandemic.
“We know that there are some victims of domestic abuse that will be worried about bothering the police and other services during this crisis,” she said.
“This campaign makes it absolutely clear, these services are open and they are there to help you. Do not hesitate to use them if you need them”.
The domestic abuse support line can be reached on 0800 027 1234.
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