Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed Glasgow will remain in Scotland’s second toughest lockdown regime for at least another week, and warned Scotland as a whole may not move down a tier, after Covid cases continued to rise.
The first minister said the latest infection and hospitalisation figures in Greater Glasgow and Clyde showed cases continued to rise, so it would be unwise to move the city down from tier 3 to 2 this weekend, or face an upsurge in cases.
Glasgow’s case rates had jumped from 112 per 100,000 people to 146 per 100,000, with a test positivity rate of around 4%, she said. However there were signs a surge in testing and extending vaccinations to younger residents suggested the surge was subsiding. That meant the city could move down a level on 5 June.
“It would be premature to move Glasgow out of tier 3 immediately while the situation remains so fragile. However, if the incidents continue to stabilise and assuming levels of hospitalisations remain reasonably stable, the incident management team would support moving to tier 2 at the end of next week,” she said.
She told a media briefing that Scotland’s R number, the rate at which cases are increasing or falling, could as high as 1.3, which showed infections were multiplying. That was largely driven by the growth of cases in Glasgow. At least 50% of cases in Scotland are from the April 2.0 variant from India.
Case numbers had jumped by more than a quarter in the past week, with the 641 cases in the last 24 hours the highest daily figure since 25 March. That meant the Scottish government could decide not to move Scotland as a whole down to tier 1 on 7 June, as currently planned, she said.
Sturgeon said the number of people in Scottish hospitals had risen to 90 overnight, up by seven; the number in intensive care up two to six, and there had been two deaths of people with confirmed infections.
She said the growth in vaccinations, with nearly 2m people now having their second doses, and 3.2m with their first dose. That gave her “cause for real hope” that vaccinations would greatly reduce the impact and lethality of the virus, which would suppress hospitalisations. That would, in time, allow more relaxing of current lockdown restrictions.
Sturgeon added that she had heard vociferous complaints from business people and opposition leaders about the very short notice previously given for changes to Glasgow’s lockdown level. She would announce on Wednesday whether the city would be moving down or remain in tier 3 on Saturday.