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Coronavirus: Scotland to cancel large gatherings, but decision on schools still to be made

Large gatherings are set to be cancelled in a bid to delay the outbreak of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has announced.

At First Minister’s Questions, she said it is “inappropriate that we continue as normal” and she will recommend the cancellation of gatherings of more than 500 people to protect front-line services.

Ms Sturgeon said she would be advising the cancellations to start from Monday.

Speaking ahead of a Cobra meeting with other UK leaders, Ms Sturgeon said: “Mass gatherings are required to be policed, they require to have emergency ambulance cover, they require the services of our voluntary health services, and at a time when we need to be reducing the pressures on these front-line workers in order to free them up on the significant challenge that lies ahead, I do think it is inappropriate that we continue as normal.”

Ms Sturgeon said any decision on whether to close schools has not yet been made, in light of the anticipated move from the contain phase amid the coronavirus outbreak, to the delay phase.

Explaining the reasons behind the decision to cancel mass gatherings, Ms Sturgeon said: “That is principally to protect the resilience of our front-line workers, and we will continue to take decisions in collaboration with the other nations of the UK around issues like schools in the future, but driven very much by the scientific advice.”

‘Sharp rise in cases’

Ahead of the announcement at 2pm of how many people in Scotland have currently been diagnosed with coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon said she expects a “sharp rise in cases”.

Responding to Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw at FMQs, Ms Sturgeon added: “We may also see further evidence of community transmission of coronavirus.

“That underlines the seriousness of the situation we are all facing.”

The Scottish Government’s national clinical director Jason Leitch had said previously that community transmission of Covid-19 – when the source of the transfer could not be traced – would be a “trigger” for the move from the contain phase to the delay phase.

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