Two more Covid-19 deaths have been recorded in Scotland and 465 people have tested positive for the virus in the last 24 hours – the second highest daily total since the pandemic began.
Announcing the figures at First Minister’s Questions in the Scottish Parliament, Nicola Sturgeon said 25,960 people have now tested positive overall and 2,510 have died after being confirmed to have Covid-19.
The rise in cases follows a record increase of 486 on Wednesday and a tightening of lockdown restrictions across the country.
The R number in Scotland – the average number of other people infected with the virus by each person with Covid-19 – could now possibly be as high as 1.6, Ms Sturgeon said.
The positivity rate of people tested for the virus also continues to rise, standing at 7.9% on Thursday, and there are currently 84 patients in hospital with coronavirus.
Ms Sturgeon said the latest figures show why the Scottish Government has imposed further “tough measures” aimed at curbing the spread.
She said: “With some limited exceptions, none of us should be visiting each other’s homes at the moment.”
She added that outdoors or in public spaces, people can meet in groups of up to six from a maximum of two households – although children under 12 are excluded from these limits and those aged 12 to 17 are exempt from the two-household rule.
In addition, pubs and restaurants will be forced to close at 10pm from Friday after a new curfew was announced.
Ms Sturgeon appealed to people to “limit visits to and social interactions in pubs and restaurants as much as possible”.
She said: “These measures are tough, I think we all know that, but they are necessary if we are to keep schools open, resume more non-Covid NHS services, keep care homes safe and protect jobs.
“And if we don’t act now, the danger is the virus will continue to spread and even more severe or longer lasting restrictions will be required later.
“But if we can start to reduce the number of new cases over the next few weeks, we will be better placed for the winter ahead.”