Humza Yousaf has said indicators are “positive” that Scotland is exiting the current coronavirus wave but warned that it will not be the last the country will have to deal with.

The Health Secretary was speaking on Wednesday as he announced the takeover of Carrick Glen Clinic by NHS Ayrshire & Arran to become part of a network of 10 national treatment centres.

The programme forms part of the health service’s recovery as it tries to deal with an increased backlog caused by the pandemic.

When asked if Scotland is heading in the right direction in managing Covid, Mr Yousaf said that “being honest, and being frank, this is not the last wave we are going to have to deal with”.

“I think there could be other waves, certainly that my public health experts tell me, that we’ll have to deal with in the course of this pandemic,” he added.

The Scottish Government is set to change its rules on wearing face coverings on public transport and in indoor settings next week.

From Monday, wearing a face mask will become guidance rather than a legal requirement across the country.

Asked if there is cause for concern over the risk of rising cases once the change is in place, the Health Secretary told the PA news agency: “The decision to move from legal requirement to public health guidance is just that. 

The government’s strong public health guidance will still be for people to wear face coverings in particular settings.

“I’ll still be wearing face coverings in particular settings, and we’ll be encouraging other people to do similar.

“What we have to recognise is that we can’t keep things in statute or law for a minute longer than they have to be.”

Schools across Scotland are currently on holiday for the Easter break, but the Health Secretary underlined an importance for students who are eligible for the vaccine to get it in order to protect their peers upon the return to classes.

Mr Yousaf told the PA news agency: “We know particularly for our secondary school pupils that are eligible for the vaccine, we know there’s been good uptake.

“I would encourage those that are eligible to continue to get the vaccine, because we know it offers the best protection possible, and we know the younger the age group, the lower the uptake is.

“So my strong message would be to our young children, is look, please get your vaccine. If you’re unsure about anything, ask a vaccinator, go on the NHS Inform website, talk to your other peers that have had the vaccine.

“It is the best protection possible, and by getting the vaccine, you don’t just protect yourself. You’ll protect your teachers, you’ll protect the canteen staff, you’ll protect other members of society too.”

Scotland has recorded 28 coronavirus-linked deaths and 5,513 cases in the past 24 hours, according to latest figures.

It means the total number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 has risen to 11,734.

The number of cases in the figures published on Wednesday is up from 4,958 the previous day.

Public Health Scotland (PHS) data on Wednesday showed that 2,110 people were in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 10 on the previous day, with 23 in intensive care, no change.