Nicola Sturgeon has urged the UK Government and other devolved administrations to commit to starting a public inquiry into the handling of the coronavirus pandemic this year.

The First Minister has already said she will set up an inquiry in Scotland on that timescale. 

However, she said a four nations focus would also be "beneficial" given the issues involved.

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She said: “I am committed to establishing in Scotland a judge-led public inquiry to examine all aspects of our handling of the pandemic - including the situation in our care homes - and to have this underway before the end of this year. 

"This will happen in Scotland whether or not it happens in other parts of the UK. 

"However, there is no doubt it would be beneficial to have an inquiry that could look across the four nations as well as at specific issues within each nation - this would help provide answers to families, businesses and all those who have made sacrifices over the last year.

"I hope all governments across the UK will join me in committing to a full public inquiry starting later this year."

The SNP manifesto, which was launched last week ahead of the Holyrood election on May 6, states: "As we start to look to the future it is vital that we learn from and reflect on our experience.

"To do this, we will commission a statutory, person-centred and human rights based public inquiry into the handling of the Coronavirus pandemic in Scotland. 

"We will make sure the voices of families who have lost loved ones are heard as part of establishing the inquiry and that they have an active role in the process. 

"We will begin to take the necessary steps to establish the public inquiry as soon as possible after the election."

It came as Ms Sturgeon admitted the way elderly people were discharged from hospitals into care homes early in the pandemic was a mistake.

Earlier this month, outgoing Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: "We didn't take the right precautions to make sure that older people leaving hospital going into care homes were as safe as they could be and that was a mistake."

In an interview with BBC Scotland, Ms Sturgeon was asked if she agreed with this. 

She said: "Looking back on that now, with the knowledge we have now and with the benefit of hindsight, yes."

She said the Scottish Government had got "some things wrong and I feel the responsibility of that every single day".

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: "We should never have been sending Covid-positive patients into care homes. That was unforgivable."

Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the Scottish Government's response to the pandemic "must be examined".