MINISTERS will "reflect" on the credibility of the coronavirus graphics they use, Nicola Sturgeon has said, after her deputy was accused of posting unverified information on social media.

John Swinney, who is also the Covid Recovery Secretary, tweeted an image with claims about the protection gained by the use of face coverings.

The graphic claimed there is no risk of transmission if two people stand six feet apart and both are wearing a mask.

But the exact figures used in the illustration do not appear to be supported by evidence and the original source of the graphic is not apparent.

Ms Sturgeon was asked about its use during a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing. 

She said: "The Deputy First Minister tweeted an image yesterday that was intended to illustrate what is absolutely the case – that wearing face masks protects people from transmission of the virus."

She continued: "He was illustrating that point, and I think the more we can illustrate that point, the better.

"What I will say in addition to that is that I think we recognise that in seeking to illustrate that, we should take care to use properly verified graphics, and we'll certainly take that on board in terms of how we tweet that information in future.

"But getting the general point across, he is absolutely right to seek to do, as I seek to do on a general, ongoing basis as well."

Ms Sturgeon later added: "I do recognise the importance of people like me and the Deputy First Minister and ministers sharing verified information. 

"The point we're trying to illustrate – that John was trying to illustrate yesterday – is a really important point to illustrate, and it is the case that face coverings help protect us, and therefore I don't think we should lose sight of that point. 

"But I take the point about the credibility of the graphics that are helping to illustrate that, and I'm sure we will all reflect on that."

Dr Nicola Steedman, Scotland's Deputy Chief Medical Officer, said the data behind face coverings was "incredibly complex" and depends on the type of mask.

She added: "I think that figure was an effort to simplistically represent the fact that masks and face coverings do provide some protection."

Dr Steedman said the "bottom line" is face coverings and masks provide protection.