NICOLA Sturgeon has stressed that lockdown measures will be in place “for a considerable period of time” and remain after the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak - in order to make sure that the impact is kept on a “downward trajectory”.

The First Minister addressed speculation that the UK could be approaching the peak of the outbreak after UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock indicated the point could be reached in the next couple of weeks.

Ms Sturgeon reiterated the importance to be “honest and frank with people”.

She said: “These measures are not about to be lifted next week. We are in this for the long haul.  

“It may be, we don’t know yet, that when we do start to come out of it, it  will not be all at once - it will be a phased approach.

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“We will make sure we set that out to people clearly and based on the best possible advice and information that we’ve got.”

She added: "People understandably fixate a lot on this question of the peak. That is obviously important but it is not the case and people should not get the impression that as soon as the peak of the infection is over, we just go back to normal.

“There’s a long way into a peak and a long way out of a peak. When we are coming out of that peak, it is also really important that we make sure things stay on a downward trajectory.

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“This is something that we need to stick with in order to keep this virus at bay for a little while but we actually stop it overwhelming our NHS and leading to the deaths of more people than would otherwise be the case.”

The First Minister also said she couldn’t rule out further restrictions being rolled out - after there had been suggestions that the daily exercise currently permitted outdoors, could be banned in a bid to further suppress the spread.

She said: “I can’t say for certain what the future, the next few weeks and months, look like, in terms of these measures.

“We aren’t yet, firstly, in a position to know exactly what the impact of the current measures have been, what impact that has had on the spread of the virus.

“I’ve always said that if more restrictive measures are required, in the interest of beating the virus, we will have to contemplate that. I’m not standing here right now with any secret plans to do that.”

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The First Minister added: “I hope over a period of weeks, perhaps with some of this it will be months, that we see a process become possible where we start to get back to normal.

“I’ve always been really clear not to give people false promise and false expectation about the timescale of that.

“In order to get on top of this virus and stay on top of this virus, some of these measures are likely to be in place for a considerable period of time.”