PUBS and other public places have been told to close after research by scientists revealed that coronavirus victims arriving from high risk counties are infecting more people than previously thought.

Scotland also has its first coronvirus patients who are being treated in intensive care - as the country's chief medical officer indicated the mortality rate is thought to be around 1.4 per cent.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon echoed Prime Minister Boris Johnson's earlier remarks that pubs, cafes and other public spaces must now close in a bid to halt the spread of the virus.

She said: "We did get very strong advice this afternoon that it was time to request the closure of pubs, restaurants, gyms, cinemas.

"Compliance with the request to stay out of crowded places has to be really strict if it's to have the effect on slowing down the spread that we want it to have."

She added that an emergency bill to be passed by the UK Parliament would give politicians the power to enforce closures if people did not comply - but there are no plans to use these powers at the moment.

She said: "We would have powers to enforce it if we felt necessary.

"There is a power in there for ministers to direct the closure of premises."

The businesses being told to close by all governments in the UK are food and drink premises other than takeaways, pubs, clubs and other drinking establishments, cinemas, theatres, bingo halls, concert halls, spas, massage parlours, casinos and betting shops and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms and swimming pools.

Scotland's chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood, said that advice has been ramped up following investigation into coronavirus cases in England, particularly intensive care cases.

She said: "In examining those cases and the cases that have arisen from those people, it would seem that there is some concern that actually the doubling time of the virus is faster than we thought.

"What that means is that actually people are infecting more people than we had thought originally, which was two to three. It doesn't seem to be every case, it seems to be the people who have come from Italy and other high risk travel areas.

"People who have caught the virus here from somebody, it doesn't seem to have been that they are infecting more people. There's something about multiple people coming from high risk travel areas that seem to have spread to more people than we previously thought. The doubling time therefore has been quicker.

"The people with a history of having travelled seem to have been bringing a virus that is turning over more quickly and infecting more people."

She added: "The time to intensive care units in England, London in particular, is accelerating closer. "We know these measures we have put in for social distancing for the general population, we need compliance of about 75 per cent of people."

Asked about why the consequences seem to be differing from community transform and those that have come from high risk countries, Dr Calderwood said "we just don't know the answers yet".

She added: "We have evidence of sustained spread in Scotland in the community.
"We have some cases in Scotland in intensive care. We now for the first time have these cases in intensive care - people with coronavirus who are very significantly unwell."

She said that 1.4 per cent is "possibly the most accurate" morality rate for the virus.

Dr Calderwood added: "15 to 20 per cent of people in their 80s will probably die if they get it."