Scotland must suppress coronavirus to be in the “best place” to enjoy qualifying for the delayed Euro 2020 Championship in the summer, the Deputy First Minister has said.
John Swinney said the national men’s football team reaching their first major tournament since 1998 with a penalty shootout win over Serbia in Belgrade has “given the whole national a lift at a time when we really needed it”.
Mr Swinney told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Friday that he was “in a high state of nerves last night” watching the match.
He said: “I want to take this opportunity to congratulate the Scotland side on qualifying for Euro 2020.”
The Deputy First Minister added: “It is a magnificent achievement and a real piece of bright, good news for us all.
“After a very tough year the team have given the whole nation a lift at a time when really needed it and we can all now look forward to Scotland taking part in the tournament next year after such a long break from such competitions.
“But to put us in the best place to enjoy that we have to suppress the virus.”
Speaking as three council areas were moved into a tougher tier of coronavirus restrictions on Friday, he said the country has recorded 56 deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,357 positive cases in the past 24 hours.
He stressed complying with the different regional measures is “essential” to stop the virus spreading from higher to lower prevalence areas.
Angus, Fife and Perth and Kinross moved from Level 2 to Level 3 restrictions at 6am on Friday.
Meanwhile, restrictions eased slightly for those in the island council areas of Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles, who can now meet with one other household inside their homes to a maximum of six people.
The changes means 21 of Scotland’s 32 local authorities are now Level 3 – the second highest under the country’s five-tier system of measures – including those in the central belt, Dundee and Ayrshire.
Giving a further update on the daily coronavirus figures, Mr Swinney said the daily test positivity rate is 5.7%, down from 6.1% on Thursday.
Of the new cases, 433 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 267 in Lanarkshire, and 163 in Lothian.
There are 1,228 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, a rise of 21 in 24 hours. Of these patients, 96 are in intensive care, down by two.
The death toll of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days is now 3,244.
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