Scotland's chief medical officer has warned movement restrictions to halt the spread of coronavirus could last until at least the end of June.

Dr Catherine Calderwood also said the virus could peak in two to three weeks.

She warned "some sort of measures" were needed for "at least 13 weeks" to stop the spread of Covid-19.

She said anything shorter risked the virus coming back adding that the the experience of other countries showed that strict measures were needed.

The reason for measures needing to be in place for "a long time" was because the incubation period of the virus was up to two weeks. and then when people become sick, they are ill for between two and three weeks.


Dr Calderwood said it would take two to three weeks to know if the lockdown brought in a week ago had effectively slowed  down the rate of cases.

"The initial discussion from Boris Johnson about a review after the Easter weekend, was scientifically based to allow three weeks from the very stringent measures, to have the data to see if they were having the desired effect," she said.

"If they are not having the effect, I'm afraid more stringent measures would need to be put in place.  But whatever we are doing to combat the virus with that incumbation and recovery [period], we have to have some sort of measures in place for at least 13 weeks.

On Monday, new measures were announced to restrict all but essential movement.

 Dr Calderwood said: "I think we've seen really good evidence of people taking themselves back into their homes [and] not going out nearly as much this week."

She added that "disappointing sights" last weekend of people up hills and on beaches is "why we have really pushed for people to stay at home except for very essential shopping trips [and] a little bit of exercise once a day... but really not to see anyone if at all possible outside your own household"

"We've now had quite significant lockdown-type measure in the UK for a week, we know that we can tell whether that's making a difference within two weeks to three weeks so that modelling is being relooked at", she added.

She said the virus was likely to peak in two to three weeks.

 "We [will] have a peak, I think probably, at the same time across the UK but maybe of different size. London has been hit very hard, we’ve seen those numbers increase over the last number of weeks."


She said the rest of UK outside London might have lower peaks because there were currently fewer cases there.

She was "optimistic" the high projected death toll of the virus can be avoided if people stick with the restrictions put in place.

She said: "We would hope we are looking at a more optimistic level given the range of measures we have put in which are quite extreme and also given the level of compliance," she said.

"We are very hopeful that that huge figure of 260,000 excess deaths is not going to be the reality."

Her warning about the length of restrictions came as Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the UK is facing a "significant period" of strict measures to cope with the coronavirus outbreak.

He declined to predict exactly how long the instructions to stay at home could last, saying the date the virus peaked would depend on how people behaved.

Mr Gove said it was "vitally important" to follow social distancing rules.

The number of people who have died with the virus in the UK has reached 1,228 - an increase of 209 since Saturday.

Dr Calderwood told the BBC they were looking at "alternative" sites to add capacity similar to the Nightingale "field hospital" being built in London.

 "We’ve obviously cancelled our elective work that gives us more beds but we are looking at alternative facilities, like other parts of the country.

"We have doubled our ventilator capacity already and we have plans then to quadruple our existing capacity. Depending on how well these suppression measures work, we think we are coming close to having enough ventilators for the peak of the virus outbreak."

She said orders for ventilators were coming from countries across the world, saying that where they would be distributed across the four countries depended on "clinical need".