AN SNP MSP has said coronavirus could have a “positive impact” on the death rates from other diseases.

Kenneth Gibson suggested the lockdown could cut the transmission of more familiar killer infections such as pneumonia and flu.

The Cunninghame North MSP floated the idea at a scaled back sitting of Holyrood, as it met for the first time since the Easter recess under strict social distancing measures.

He asked Health Secretary Jeane Freeman: “According to National Records of Scotland, 3400 people died from contagious diseases in Scotland in 2018, including 364 from influenza and 1670 from pneumonia.

“Does the Scottish Government have any information yet on the lockdown’s positive impact on reducing the number of deaths from infectious diseases other than Covid-19, such as pneumonia and influenza?”

Ms Freeman replied: “No, we don’t have detailed information on that yet. Although it will be a very interesting piece of information that we do have.

“We do have some indication that some of the infections that generally arise because we don’t wash our hands well enough are declining.

“That should be a spur to us all to continue to pay attention to that really important public health message about washing our hands.”