MORE than 3,500 people are now believed to have died from coronavirus in Scotland, with almost as many fatalities occurring in care homes as in hospitals.

The latest figures from the National Record of Scotland found Covid-19 had been implicated in 3,546 deaths up to May 17.

Of these, 1623 or 46 per cent have been in care homes, while 1664 or 47% were in hospitals.

This compares to 45% in care homes and 48% in hospitals as of May 10.

The total number of deaths in Scotland where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate was up 10% from last week’s total of 3214.

However for the third week in a row, the number of Covid deaths in the previous seven days fell, from 415 to 332, compared to a peak of 658 in late April.

Nicola Sturgeon said the figures were "further grounds for encouragement" and showed the lockdown was working, bringing closer the easing of restrictions.

The First Minister will publish her route map on exiting the lockdown tomorrow.

Ms Sturgeon also revealed new analysis in Scotland had not found a disproportionate level of deaths in Scotland among the black, Asian and ethnic minority communities.

Updating Holyrood on the latest Health Protection Scotland figures, she said another 50 people had died overnight from the virus, taking the total number of laboratory confirmed deaths involving Covid-19 to 2,184.

The larger NRS tally includes cases where suspected Covid-19 was recorded as a factor on the death certificate.

It is considered more accurate than the daily running total produced by Health Protection Scotland (HPS).

The NRS cumulative figure was 69% higher than the 2105 deaths recorded by HPS as of May 17.

Total deaths from all causes in Scotland in the week to May 17 was 1,415, a decrease of 20 on the previous week.

However this was still 33% more than the average number of deaths registered in the same week over the last five years, 1064.

Of these 351 so-called excess deaths, 85% involved Covid-19 as the underlying cause of death.

In the past seven days, 55% of all deaths from all causes occurred in care homes, compared to 57% the previous week.

The number of deaths in care homes fell for a third week, by 54 to 184.

Three quarters of registered deaths involving COVID-19 to date were people aged 75 or over, 76%.  

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman announced on Monday that all 53,000 care home staff in Scotland would be offered routing testing for coronavirus, as they were the primary source of the infection entering homes.

However testing of care residents is not yet routine as it is distressing for some people.

Residents are currently being tested where there is a known outbreak.

Last week’s data revealed people living in the poorest parts of Scotland were 2.3 times as likely to die from the virus compared to those in the most affluent areas.

The coronavirus death rate was 86.5 per 100,000 people in the poorest fifth of neighbourhoods, compared to 38.2 in the richest fifth.

It also found more 90% of victims had a pre-existing condition, with dementia and Alzhemier's disease the most common 'co-morbidity'.

Pete Whitehouse, NRS Director of Statistical Services, said: “Every death from this virus is a tragedy. These statistics, alongside the other important evidence being made available by the Scottish Government and Health Protection Scotland (HPS), are valuable to the understanding of the progress and impact of the COVID-19 virus across Scotland.

These latest figures show that for the third  week running since reporting of registered deaths relating to COVID-19 began there has been a reduction in COVID-19 related deaths.”