NICOLA STURGEON said the public must be the “first line of defence”against Covid-19, as she stressed it should not be left to the police to break up crowds.

Extra patrols have been drafted in to enforce lockdown measures in Aberdeen amid a growing outbreak linked to more than 30 pubs and leisure venues in or near the city.

The First Minister said 79 cases have now been confirmed and a further 30 are being investigated in connection with a cluster first identified among customers who had been drinking at the Hawthorn Bar on July 26.

Test and Protect teams have also identified 233 close contacts of the known positive cases.

It comes days after photographs shared on social media showed large crowds outside pubs in Aberdeen at the weekend.

Asked whether she felt police should have stepped in to enforce social distancing, Ms Sturgeon said it was up to everyone to “take responsibility for our own behaviour”.

She said: “The crowd of people is only there because a bunch of folk have not behaved the way they should: they’ve breached the guidance on avoiding crowded places.

“We are the first line of defence. If that breaks down, Test and Protect have to come in and firefight, the police have to come and firefight.

“But let’s not start ‘the police should have come and broken up the crowd’. The crowd shouldn’t be there in the first place.”

All indoor and outdoor hospitality premises were forced to close on Wednesday for at least seven days, with city residents told not to visit other households indoors or travel more than five miles from home for leisure.

Ms Sturgeon added this meant Aberdonians “should not be going on holiday right now – either to other parts of Scotland, or other parts of the UK”, with overseas travel advised against for all Scots.

Across Scotland as a whole, the First Minister said the number of new Covid cases was up by 67, including 39 in the Grampian region. At least 25 of those would appear to be linked to the Aberdeen outbreak.

Ms Sturgeon said investigations were still continuing to identify, if possible, the index case at the root of the Aberdeen cluster, but said there was evidence activity among younger Scots was becoming “one of our biggest risk areas” for the spread of the virus.

“Generally speaking, we are now seeing – and this is different from the earlier stage in the pandemic – we are now seeing a greater proportion of positive cases in a relatively younger age group," said Ms Sturgeon.

"By that, what I'm broadly talking about are the under-40s: 20 to 40.

"I'm not blaming anyone for this.

"It's perfectly understandable now that pubs have opened, after four months of not being able to do this, that you want to socialise a bit more, to see your friends a bit more.

"But what the data is telling us is that that is maybe becoming one of our biggest risk areas, and therefore it's incumbent on me to say to people 'remember you've got to follow all this advice because you're not immune'."

Ms Sturgeon said the age breakdown in the Aberdeen cluster "is broadly in line with the age breakdown across Scotland over the past seven days".

Since the coronavirus outbreak began in Scotland, there have been just 57 hospital admissions among people aged 15 to 24 who have tested positive for Covid and 425 in the 25 to 44 age group, from a total of 5951.

Based on death certificate data gathered by National Records of Scotland, just 28 people aged 15 to 44 - from a total of 4208 - have died with the disease.

Younger people without underlying health conditions are unlikely to become critically unwell or die, but they can catch and spread the virus to others - sometimes without even developing symptoms themselves.

There is also increasing evidence the people who recover from the virus - even those who only had mild symptoms - can suffer lasting damage to their heart and lung tissue, or other complications such as 'long Covid' characterised by debilitating fatigue.

Asked whether the Aberdeen outbreak might lead to a ban on pub crawls after 28 licensed premises - including pubs, hotels, restaurants and cafes - were linked to individuals who have since tested positive, Ms Sturgeon said she expected to give an update later this week.

"We're looking at whether to tighten up regulations and the guidance around hospitality," said Ms Sturgeon, adding: "Based on what we can see superficially in Aberdeen, there seems potentially to be an issue of people going from one pub to another.

"We haven't reached a view on that but it's something we can't simply ignore."

Ms Sturgeon said public health teams were also "looking very carefully" at the situation in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde after 32 new cases were confirmed over 48 hours - including 17 today.

The First Minister said initial investigations on Wednesday had identified "a couple of family clusters" and three cases linked to different care homes, but no evidence of a specific outbreak.

The latest modelling indicates that there were an estimated 275 people in Scotland infectious with the coronavirus last week, down from 300 in previous estimates.

However, there are also signs of an increase in hospital admissions with 270 patients in hospital with Covid compared to 260 a week ago. It is the first week-on-week increase since April.

"We have seen an increase in cases in recent days that may not yet be reflected in this modelling," said Ms Sturgeon.

"Many of these cases, but not all, are linked to outbreaks such as the one in Aberdeen and the one in Inverclyde last week.

"But it's important to say that not all of these cases are linked to outbreaks, so we really must be on our guard."