Nicola Sturgeon last night urged grandparents to avoid their grandchildren during the coronavirus crisis so they can live “to see them grow up”.
The first minister issued the stark warning to the elderly in a television address outlining the latest dramatic measures needed in the battle against the virus.
She then made the grim demand of the elderly, who experts say are much more susceptible to Covid-19.
She said: “To older people – we are asking you to stay away from your grandkids, from the people you love.
“That’s hard. But it is for your protection – so you can stay around to see them grow up.”
Asked about the warning by The Courier in a press briefing last night, Ms Sturgeon added: “I know how hard it is.
“My parents have grandkids that they spent a lot of time with, one in particular because she’s still young, and I know how hard it is for them to entertain the prospect of not seeing her on the same regular basis they do right now.
“I think it’s really important to be clear to people that we’re asking older people to do this for a reason and it is for their protection and for the good of their families overall.
“I’m also really aware of how anxious a time this is and that’s why I’m trying as best as I can to balance the severity of the situation, and the messages we’re given with the reassurance that if we all do the right things, then we will get through this.”
At the earlier TV address from Bute House in Edinburgh, the first minister also directly addressed the nation’s children.
She said: “I know this is a strange time.
“You’re away from school, and won’t be able to spend as much time with friends.
“The adults around you are probably feeling a bit anxious too.
“So help them. Follow their advice. Study and do your homework.
“But don’t forget to have fun. And wash your hands.”
She said everyone must act now to slow the spread of the virus, which she said is “rising steeply”.
The new advice was given after discussions with scientists and chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I know how difficult this is. But it is vital to reduce our risk of getting the virus.
“And to reduce the risk of infecting those who are most vulnerable of becoming seriously ill or dying. In short, it will save lives.
“It also gives our NHS the best chance of coping. We’ve put the NHS on an emergency footing. We’re taking steps to increase the capacity of our hospitals and intensive care wards.
“But those who work in our health and social care services will be tested like never before.
“Most of us have friends and family working in the NHS – my own sister and sister-in-law are among them. The debt of gratitude we owe all of them is enormous.
“The Scottish Government will do all we can to support you.
“As a government, we are asking you to take unprecedented steps. So the level of support we provide to you must be unprecedented in return.”
Ms Sturgeon also told people to support their local businesses where possible, “but please, do not panic buy”.
Earlier yesterday she had suggested Scots could face “even stricter and more difficult” measures to help curb the spread.
Dr Calderwood also said there is “evidence of sustained community transmission across Scotland”.
She warned: “We are on the cusp of a rapid acceleration of cases of coronavirus in Scotland.
“We have seen increased numbers day on day in the past week or two, and we also have evidence of sustained community transmission across Scotland.
“All of the scientific advice tells us these measures will be effective to slow the spread of the virus, to prevent many people becoming so sick that they are admitted to hospital and sadly dying because of the disease.
“But the measures will not be effective if people don’t comply with them.”