NICOLA Sturgeon warned that the outbreak of Covid at a Lanarkshire call centre is a "salutary reminder" of how fast the virus can spread through workplaces, as she took a swipe at the UK Government move to abandon work-from-home guidance.

The First Minister confirmed that 15 employees at the Sitel call centre in Lanarkshire have tested positive for the virus, with a further five cases confirmed among their friends and relatives.

Ms Sturgeon added that five other premises were potentially exposed to the infection.

Two pubs close to Motherwell railway station - the Railway Tavern and Merlins bar - were notified of links to a known case, along with a Costa Coffee in Carfin, Owens bar in Coatbridge, and designer store END Clothing in Glasgow's Merchant City.

Ms Sturgeon said anyone who had visited these venues in the past week should be "extra vigilant" and book a Covid test if they develop symptoms.

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However, she stressed that the risk of transmission was considered low following checks by environmental health officers who found that adequate cleaning and protective equipment had been in place.

Ms Sturgeon said the outbreak was a "clear reminder" that coronavirus has not gone away.

"It does not take much for very small numbers of cases to become much bigger numbers – and while Test and Protect and our local public health teams are working incredibly hard to contain any outbreaks, it is not just their job.

"I think that’s an important point for all of us to remember, each and every one of us has a job to do to keep the virus at bay."

Ms Sturgeon confirmed that 10 new Covid cases have been identified in Scotland in the past 24 hours - taking the total for the past week to 111.

Three were detected in Lanarkshire, four in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, one in Ayrshire and Arran, one in Tayside, and one in Fife.

There have been no deaths among patients who have tested positive for the virus since July 16, although the latest statistics from National Records of Scotland found that Covid was mentioned on six death certificates lodged in the week to July 19.

It is the first time the NRS death toll has fallen into single figures.

This data includes cases where Covid is suspected - for example due to symptoms prior to death - but not necessarily confirmed by a test.

Figures from Public Health Scotland also show that hospital admissions for Covid are now averaging fewer than one per day.

The First Minister went on to stress that the outbreak at the Sitel site, which performs contact tracing for NHS England's Test and Trace regime, illustrated the dangers of opening offices prematurely.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has announced that, from August 1, employers in England are to be given "more discretion" around deciding how their staff can return to work safely.

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Blanket advice to work-from-home where possible will be dropped and instead staff could be asked to return to so-called 'Covid-secure' workplaces.

Ms Sturgeon said this would not be the case for Scotland.

"We are making changes at a pace and at a level that we think is right and safe for our current circumstances here in Scotland.

"Announcements made for other parts of the UK do not automatically apply here.

"For example I want to underline that the UK government’s encouragement to those who can work from home in England to nevertheless return to workplaces, does not yet apply in Scotland.

"Working from home, where that is feasible, remains the default and preferred position and we expect employers to continue to support people to do that.

"We will be publishing new guidance on home working shortly.

"The cluster of cases I have just talked about - around a call centre in Lanarkshire – is a salutary reminder that transmission of this virus can occur in workplaces and spread relatively easily."

Ms Sturgeon added that the outbreak in Lanarkshire shows "what can happen when people are mixing indoors and when guidance is perhaps not rigorously followed".

Labour MSP Monica Lennon referred the call centre to Police Scotland after being inundated with complaints about Sitel at the height of the pandemic.

However, an employee claimed this week that while the company subsequently increased the availability of hand sanitiser, and brought in extra measures such as one-way systems, physical distancing at desks, and Covid marshals to monitor safety, some employees were "lax" about the rules.

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The woman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said staff would sit close together during breaks and play games at their desks as the number of calls dwindled.

She added: “There were loads of people walking the wrong way and not washing their hands after using the toilet.”

Sitel said it took the safety and wellbeing of staff "very seriously".

Meanwhile, the latest NRS report also shows the first increase in excess deaths for four weeks.

There were 1,028 deaths registered last week, compared to an average of 996 for the previous five years.

These included 13 more cancer deaths than normal, six more deaths from dementia, three from strokes and heart disease, and 41 from 'other' causes.

This was partially offset by a decline in respiratory deaths, possibly because increased handwashing and hygiene by the general population is curtailing the spread of flu as well as coronavirus.

Ms Sturgeon said: "We will of course see if there are any causes for concern there, but it is worth remembering that the total number of deaths is always likely to fluctuate a bit."