NHS Scotland will remain on an emergency footing until at least the end of March next year, the Health Secretary has said.
Jeane Freeman announced the NHS was adopting this status when coronavirus hit Scotland in March.
While health boards across the country are now working to reintroduce services that had to be halted at the height of the pandemic, Ms Freeman said the NHS would remain on an emergency footing.
She said: “I am mindful of the challenges that winter is likely to bring over the coming months, including seasonal flu and bad weather.
“I want to ensure that our health and care services are fully supported across winter, so NHS Scotland will remain on an emergency footing until at least March 31 2021, at which point I will review the situation again.”
Ms Freeman, who gave the update in response to a written parliamentary question at Holyrood, said the health and care services continued to “respond magnificently to the enormous challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic”.
And while she said the NHS had now begun “safely and incrementally resuming some services”, the Health Secretary added that “the reality is coronavirus is likely to be with us for some time to come”.
She said the health boards would “continue to work on safely resuming services whilst protecting Covid-19 capacity”.
But Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said a plan to “kickstart” the NHS must be put in place sooner rather than later.
Ms Lennon said: “With thousands of Scots waiting for key tests and languishing for months without treatment it is vital a plan to fully kickstart and support our NHS is implemented sooner rather than later.
“It is right that the NHS will be primed to respond to any sudden spikes of Covid-19, but other health conditions like cancer need to be given equal priority and doing so means we need to see a rapid expansion of PPE and mass testing which has been recommended by experts for months.”
Liberal Democrat health spokesman Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “People were hoping and expecting that we were on our way to eliminating the virus and progressing back to something like normal. The new restrictions and rising infection rates have deeply dashed those hopes.
“We are facing months more under the thumb of the virus.
“Ministers must make sure the hard-working staff across our NHS and care sectors are given the resources they deserve to operate safely in this extended emergency period.
“Liberal Democrats believe everyone risking their life on the front line of the pandemic should receive a frontline service reward, just as those in the military do.”