Additional lockdown restrictions will “almost certainly” be put in place in Scotland in the next couple of days, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
The First Minister said coronavirus is spreading again in Scotland and “further and urgent action” is needed to stop the increase, warning if left unchecked it will lead to more cases, people in hospital and deaths.
She said the Scottish Government is prepared to introduce “a package of additional measures” but will aim to avoid a full-scale lockdown such as the one imposed in March.
Speaking at the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said cases in Scotland have risen by 255 in the past 24 hours, representing 6.3% of those newly tested, up from 5.4% on Sunday.
The First Minister said the Scottish Government endorses the warning of UK chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance that new cases could rise daily by 50,000 by October.
“In my view, further and urgent action will now be needed to stop the increase in the number of cases,” she said.
While the measures are still being considered, the First Minister said they are “very close to a point of decision”.
She said: “At the heart of this decision is a simple truth, the longer we wait to introduce new measures, the longer these measures are likely to be in place.
“If we move sharply now to get the virus back under control, we can minimise the time we all spend under any new restrictions.
“If we wait it will take longer, potentially a lot longer, to come out of the other side.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “I need to be absolutely straight with people across Scotland that additional restrictions will almost certainly be put in place in Scotland over the next couple of days.
“Hopefully this will be with four-nations alignment but if necessary it will have to happen without that.”
She later added that she would be attending a Cobra meeting on Tuesday morning.
Ms Sturgeon said her ministers would then agree on further steps to tackle the spread of the virus, which will be followed by a statement in Holyrood.
It comes after the four chief medical officers across the UK nations raised the Covid-19 alert level to four.
“In that call, I will impress upon the Prime Minister my view that we need decisive, urgent and, as far as possible given our individual responsibilities, co-ordinated action across the UK,” she said.
Announcing a 48-hour deadline for the rules to be announced, with or without a co-ordinated approach across the UK, Ms Sturgeon said: “I will be clear that I am willing to allow a bit more time for four-nations discussions to take place before making final decisions for Scotland.
“But I will be equally clear that the urgency of this situation will mean that we cannot, must not and will not wait too long.”
Giving an update on the daily figures, she said no new deaths of confirmed patients have been recorded and the death toll under this measure remains at 2,505 – but stressed registration offices are closed at the weekend.
Of the new cases – which take the total to 24,672 – 103 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 47 in Lanarkshire and 30 in Lothian.
There are 73 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, up 10 in 24 hours.
Of these patients, eight are in intensive care, a fall of one.
Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon said lessons must be learned from previous lockdown restrictions.
She said: “Every effort must be made to ensure our testing and tracing system is working effectively and that people have the right financial and practical support to allow them to isolate when necessary.
“Lockdown restrictions are not harm-free and the Scottish Government must demonstrate that lessons have been learned over recent months.
“The Health Secretary must urgently boost support for our NHS and social care, to equip our heroic healthcare staff to deal with autumn and winter pressures.”