NICOLA Sturgeon has defended the Scottish Government’s response to the pandemic after figures revealed the country's death rate in the second wave has been worse than in England.

Official statistics released earlier this week showed that Scotland recorded 50.5 deaths per million in the week up to November 15, while the rate south of the border was 40.6.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Ms Sturgeon said demographic factors had contributed to the differences, but warned it was too early to compare responses to the crisis while the world is “still in the teeth of the pandemic”.

The First Minister responded as Scotland recorded two additional Covid-19 deaths in the last 24-hour period and 746 new cases – with the daily test positivity rate at 5.2 per cent, up from 4.4 per cent on Saturday.

Since the start of the outbreak 3,722 people have died after testing positive for the virus within the previous 28 days.

There were 1,049 people in hospital with Covid-19 on Saturday, down from 1,077 the previous day. Of these 76 were in intensive care.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I have done everything and will continue to do everything I can to try and control the virus to try and keep it as low as possible, to take the tough decisions that have to be taken in order to achieve that and to try to take people of Scotland along in these difficult steps with me as far as I possibly can.

"But nobody underestimates the pain, the grief, the suffering that this global pandemic has brought to us."

In the latest daily coronavirus figures, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde had the highest number of new cases with 229, followed by NHS Lanarkshire which recorded 159 and NHS Lothian and NHS Ayrshire and Arran which both had 78 new cases.

No cases were recorded in the Western Isles, Shetland or Orkney.

Since the start of the outbreak, 1,176,973 people in Scotland have been tested at least once. Of these, 94,689 have tested positive.

Ms Sturgeon was also pressed on the programme about her record on education and handling of the Alex Salmond inquiry.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross claimed the First Minister was "taken to task" over what he said was a "huge gap in how her government claims to have performed and the stark reality of her gross failures on Covid, care homes, schools and the attainment gap".

He added: “She couldn’t defend her government with answers of any substance because there is no defence."

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said: “A UK TV audience got to see what we have known for a long time – Nicola Sturgeon is good at presentation but has repeatedly fallen short on delivery."

He claimed the First Minister "did not use the summer well to prepare for the second wave of the virus in the autumn”.