Nicola Sturgeon missed six emergency coronavirus Cobra meetings as the virus began in Scotland, according to reports.

The Sunday Mail revealed the First Minister skipped the crucial UK Government meetings and did not attend her first until March 2 - the same day the first case of the virus was confirmed in Scotland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson had been criticised for missing the same meetings five times, prompting the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford to describe his non-attendance as 'jaw-dropping' negligence.

So far, Covid-19 has claimed the lives of 20,319 hospital patients in the UK.

Labour's Neil Findlay criticised the First Minister's absence and told the Sunday Mail: “These are extraordinary revelations.

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“Only a few weeks ago, Boris Johnson was rightly getting pelters for missing five meetings of the vitally important Cobra committee.

“At that time, we had Ian Blackford standing up in Parliament saying in response, ‘The reports of complacency and negligence around the UK 
Government’s immediate response to the coronavirus pandemic are jaw-dropping’.

“With the news that Nicola Sturgeon has outdone even the Prime Minister on the negligence front – missing not five but six Cobra meetings – Mr Blackford’s jaw must have just crashed through the floor.”

It has been alleged Sturgeon missed meetings, which were apparently called specifically to discuss the coronavirus threat, on January 24 and 29, and also those on February 5, 18 and 26.

She attended on March 2 but missed another session on March 4.

Her seat was taken by Health Secretary Jeane Freeman and mental health minister Clare Haughey, with former Chief Medical Officer Dr Catherine Calderwood also in attendance.

Neil Findlay added: “It seems the First Minister was only interested in attending Cobra if the Prime Minister was also going to be present.

“You would have thought her priority should have been making sure she was fully up to speed with developments on this national emergency.”

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A Scottish Government spokeswoman told the newspaper: “The First Minister has been chairing meetings of the Scottish Government Resilience Committee, our equivalent of Cobra, since January 29.

“The Scottish Government has been represented at all Cobra ministerial meetings on coronavirus that we have been invited to. We often receive only limited advance notice of such meetings.”