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Chamber and committees

Meeting date: Thursday, April 9, 2020

Leaders’ Virtual Question Time 09 April 2020

Agenda: Covid-19 Update, Questions to the First Minister


Contents


Covid-19 Update

Good afternoon and welcome to the Scottish Parliament’s first-ever party leaders’ virtual question time. This is an unusual format for us, but these are unusual and uncertain times.

Joining me today are, from St Andrew’s house in Edinburgh, the First Minister and, from around the country, the leaders of our political parties: the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Jackson Carlaw; the leader of Scottish Labour, Richard Leonard; the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie; and the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, Willie Rennie.

Before we turn to our first question, I ask the First Minister to make a brief statement to update us on Covid-19 and the Government’s response to it.

Thank you, Presiding Officer. I thank the other party leaders, too.

It is now exactly 100 days since the first cases of coronavirus were reported in Wuhan and, in that time, our lives have been transformed in ways that would have been unimaginable just a few weeks ago. This virtual session of First Minister’s question time might, in the scheme of things, be a relatively minor example of that, but it is a striking example for our Parliament, so I want to put on record my thanks to you, Presiding Officer, and all the Parliament staff for making it happen.

I want to give a very brief update on the latest figures that we have in relation to Covid-19 in Scotland. As at 9 o’clock this morning, there have been 4,957 positive cases confirmed, which is an increase of 392 on the figure that was reported yesterday. As always, I should make it clear that those figures will be an underestimate. A total of 1,781 patients are currently in hospitals across the country with confirmed or suspected Covid-19—that is an increase of 10 on the number that was reported yesterday—and, last night, a total of 212 people were in intensive care with confirmed or suspected cases of the virus, which is an increase of two on yesterday’s figure.

It is with great sadness that I must report an additional 81 deaths of patients who had tested positive for Covid-19. That takes the total number of deaths in Scotland where the individual had tested positive to 447. However, as members are aware, National Records of Scotland is now publishing weekly figures, which will report on deaths in cases in which the virus is presumed as well as confirmed.

I want to convey my deepest sympathy to all those who have lost loved ones to the virus and to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who is working so hard to keep essential services running at this time of crisis. That of course includes our health and care staff, and I expect that we and thousands of people around the country will again express our appreciation for them with applause at 8 pm tonight.

I know that Opposition leaders will have questions on a range of matters such as health and care services and the wider economic and social impacts of Covid-19 but, since we are about to enter the Easter weekend, I want to conclude with a strong re-emphasis of the vital importance of everyone following the public health restrictions that are in place and staying at home except for permitted essential purposes.

I know how hard it is for people to do that. It will seem even harder over the Easter holiday weekend, especially for families with children, for the children themselves and for older people who would normally be spending time with their grandchildren. I ask people to please stay in touch with family, friends and loved ones in whatever alternative way works best for them; to reach out to and look out for other people while staying physically apart from them; and to follow the rules and stay at home over Easter. By doing that, we can all help to slow down the spread of the virus; we can help to protect our national health service; and we can help to save lives. I thank everybody in advance for doing the right thing this weekend.