Nicola Sturgeon has warned she will make judgements over the coming days on whether to “step in and do anything further” to tackle a coronavirus cluster at an Aberdeen bar.
The First Minister said investigations into the outbreak are “ongoing” and committed to providing more details “as and when they are available”.
A total of 15 of the 23 cases recorded across Scotland on Tuesday were in Grampian, with the First Minister stating it was “not yet clear” how many of the new cases were connected to the ongoing outbreak at the Hawthorn Bar in Aberdeen.
The total of 15 in one day follows an increase of 11 on Monday and 13 on Sunday – bringing the total of new confirmed cases across the region to 39 in just three days.
The number of cases detected in the recent cluster at the Hawthorn Bar now stands at 32 with Test and Protect teams identifying 120 close contacts of detected cases.
When asked if a local lockdown could be imposed in the city, Ms Sturgeon said this remains “under review in an ongoing basis”, adding she would be taking part in discussions throughout Tuesday and into Wednesday on the evidence emerging from the Granite City.
She added: “All of these things have to be under review in an ongoing basis because we’re dealing with an infectious virus and therefore it’s a tactical battle we’re fighting with this virus.
“We’ll be looking at this and making judgements on whether we need to step in and do anything further.”
Chief medical officer Gregor Smith told the briefing the number of cases in Aberdeen linked to the Hawthorn bar is “of concern” but the Test and Protect system has “done its job” by identifying the chains of transmission.
“What would make me increasingly uneasy is if, with new cases being identified, we were unable to identify those chains of transmission, how those people were contracting Covid-19,” he added.
“At the moment there is no evidence that is the case at all but we continue to keep a very close eye on exactly the mechanisms by which people have tested positive and how they’ve come about it.”
We’ll be looking at this and making judgements on whether we need to step in and do anything further.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
When asked about potential other venues affected by the outbreak, the First Minister said the incident management team, which is leading the investigation, would provide public notification of “other locations” affected, if required.
There would “almost certainly be more information to come” out of the Aberdeen outbreak, she added.
Ms Sturgeon described the outbreak as proof the virus is “extremely infectious and extremely dangerous”.
She said self-isolation is “non-negotiable” if someone is found to be a close contact to a positive case, adding that even if a test comes back negative the person will still need to self-isolate for two weeks.
Employers were warned that testing staff was not an alternative to self-isolating, adding there were “no shortcuts” for trying to contain the virus.
The First Minister also stressed the Scottish Government could consider placing a legal obligation on hospitality venues to gather contact information from customers.
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon used her daily briefing to report there were no Covid-19 deaths recorded across Scotland for the 19th day in a row.
The SNP politician also announced a Scottish version of an online survey from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, which is hoped to give a more timely overview of the virus.
Currently, very few people are involved in the surveys from Scotland, the First Minister said, meaning the modelling is less useful to the Scottish Government.
About 3,000 people will be needed to take part in the survey, Ms Sturgeon told the briefing, as she urged people to come forward.