The First Minister updated MSPs on Tuesday afternoon about the coronavirus pandemic in Scotland.

This week, Nicola Sturgeon continued to set out the latest assessment of Covid data and its impacts.

In her speech, the First Minister addressed the latest figures including intensive care statistics and changes that are being introduced on how the daily stats are published.

She also mentioned the vaccine rollout, and the Omicron subtype which is being continually monitored, whilst also giving an update on guidance for schools and early years setting

Here are the key points from today’s speech by the First Minister.


1. Case figures 'remain broadly stable' as basic measures remain.

The First Minister started by addressing the daily statistics. A total of 6,630 people have test positive for the virus in the last 24 hours. A further 14 people who tested positive have died, taking the total death toll to 10,477.

950 people were in hospital yesterday which is 8 fewer than the day before.

A total of 31 people are in intensive care - five fewer than yesterday. This includes 13 patients who have been in ICU for more than 28 days.

With the latest data, Ms Sturgeon said that the figures over the last fornight have remained ‘broadly stable’.

She said: “Over the last fortnight, case numbers have remained broadly stable.

“Last week, I reported that cases had risen slightly - by around 2% - in the preceding 7 days.

“By contrast, over the past week, reported case numbers have declined again, from around 7,400 cases a day to just over 7,000 - a fall of 5%.

“While that continues a positive overall trend, it is important to note that it does mask some significant variations between different age groups.

“Amongst under 15s - the age cohort in which cases have been rising in recent weeks, even as they declined overall - there was a fall of more than 1/4 in the past week.

“Cases also fell - by 6% - in the 25 to 44 age group, and by more than 10% in those aged 75 and over.

“However, in other age groups, recorded cases have increased in the past week. The biggest increase - of more than 50% - was amongst 15- to 24-year-olds.

“As I have noted in recent weeks, it was always likely that we would see some uptick in recorded cases as a result of the return to work and school after Christmas and, more recently, the lifting of protective measures that had played a part in stemming transmission.”


2. Pressure being eased on hospitals

The First Minister said that the number of people in intensive care is now at its lowest since July 2020, and that this was part of a ‘positive trend’ in figures.

She also announced that as part of this ‘positive trend’ that overall admissions are dropping again.

She said: “Around mid-January, more than 1,500 people were in hospital with Covid. This time last week, that had fallen to just under 1,200. Today, it is back below 1,000.

The number of people with Covid in intensive care has reduced too - from a recent peak of 70 in January, to 42 last Tuesday, and 31 today. Indeed, the number in intensive care is at its lowest now since early July of last year.

We are also now, thankfully, starting to see a decline in the number of deaths of people with Covid.”


3. Weekend statistics to be stopped.

The usual practice for the Scottish Government when delivering Covid statistics has been consistent for nearly the entire pandemic.

Currently, the daily figures - which include total case numbers, deaths, hospital admissions including intensive care, and vaccine rollout – are published every day at 2pm.

However, Ms Sturgeon announced there will be a change in the ‘rhythm of reporting’ the data starting this week.

After this weekend, the daily statistics will no longer be published during the weekends. Intstead, future figures for Saturday and Sunday will be published on the following Monday.

However, she also said it would be re-introduced if necessary.

4. BA.2 sub variant being monitored

The Omicron sub variant known as BA.2 is still in circulation, but Nicola Sturgeon said that there is currently no ‘significant concern’ regarding it.

Last week there were 26 cases of the subtype confirmed and it has now risen to 103.

However, the evidence suggests the variant is more similar to Delta and not as severe as Omicron.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Encouragingly, there remains no evidence at this stage that the disease caused by the BA.2 subtype is any more severe than that caused by the main Omicron variant.

“Nor does it appear to be any more capable of evading the immunity conferred by vaccination or prior infection.

“However, there is evidence, from more than one country now, of a growth advantage for BA.2 compared to the main Omicron variant, which may mean it is more transmissible.

“All in all, however, there are no grounds at this stage for any significant concern about BA.2 - and no reason to change our approach in response to it. We will, though, continue to monitor it carefully.


5. New framework published on February 22

Ms Sturgeon announced that the new framework which aims to help Scotland tackle Covid in a more ‘sustainable and less restrictive manner’ will be published on February 22.

She said: “The ongoing use of vaccination in our efforts against Covid will be a key part of an updated Strategic Framework which will set out in greater detail our approach to managing Covid more sustainably and less restrictively in the remaining phases of the pandemic, and then as the virus hopefully becomes endemic.

“We continue to engage with a range of interests on the contents of the framework.

“However, I can confirm today that we intend to publish it on 22 February - immediately following the February recess.

“Parliament will subsequently get a chance to debate and vote on it.

“After almost two years of this ordeal, I know getting back to normal for short periods followed by further disruption to our lives, is not what any of us want.

“A return to normal that is sustained is what we want and are striving for. That is what the updated Strategic Framework will be aiming to support.”


6. Working from home guidance

Working from home guidance is set to begin relaxing in Scotland, and most employers are being told to consider a hybrid approach between home and workplace offices.

The First Minister made no changes to the advice. However, Ms Sturgeon did say that employers will need to consider the advice given to high-risk workers as she also announced that the Scottish Government are providing guidance on the issue.

7. School guidance and facemasks.

The First Minister said her advisory sub-group on education will meet and consider the issue today. 

The meeting will discuss whether secondary school pupils will continue to have to wear face coverings in class will be made before pupils return after the February break.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Scottish Government will consider carefully any further advice that the sub-group provides, and confirm any decisions as quickly as possible and in advance of the return to school after the February break.”