Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that coronavirus lockdown measures in Scotland will be extended for a further three weeks.
Speaking at her daily COVID-19 briefing on Thursday, the first minister said: “Our assessment of the evidence leads me to the conclusion that the lockdown must be extended at this stage.”
Sturgeon insisted she would “not be pressurised” into lifting measures prematurely, continuing: “The decisions we take now are a matter of life and death and that is why they weigh so heavily.”
She added that while “really significant progress” was being made in curbing coronavirus, the situation “remains fragile”.
Boris Johnson told leaders of the devolved nations on Thursday afternoon that he is committed to a UK-wide approach to tackling coronavirus “even if different parts of the UK begin to move at slightly different speeds”.
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A Downing Street spokesman said: “During the call, the Prime Minister emphasised that this is a critical moment in the fight against coronavirus and that the Government will not throw away the efforts and sacrifices of the British people.
“He was clear that we will not risk a second peak that could overwhelm the NHS and we will act with maximum caution in order to save lives
An announcement on extending the lockdown in England is expected at the daily Downing Street press conference.
Earlier in the day, the prime minister’s spokesperson played down reports that any significant changes could be made to the lockdown as early as next week.
The spokesperson said Johnson told the cabinet that nothing would be done which risked a second peak in the outbreak and that he plans to proceed with “maximum caution”.
The PM is due to make a statement on Sunday setting out his long-term plan to lift the country out of lockdown, following reports that restrictions on exercise may be eased on Monday.
Sturgeon hinted she may agree to allow people to exercise more than once a day – but only if it is justified by a decrease in COVID-19 cases and deaths.
She added: “The other possible changes that are reported in the media, such as encouraging more people back to work now, opening beer gardens, or encouraging more use of public transport, would not in my judgment be safe for us to make yet.
“And I particularly strongly believe for us to drop the clear, well-understood stay at home message right now could be a potentially catastrophic mistake.”
It comes as a total of 1,762 patients died in Scotland after testing positive for coronavirus, up by 59 from Wednesday’s total of 1,703.
Sturgeon has previously said that the lifting of lockdown measures would likely be phased, and that measures could be in place into 2021.
Recently, the Scottish government also issued an updated a document detailing their strategy for “transitioning out of the current lockdown arrangements”.
Lockdown measures have been cautiously lifted in countries that are already ahead of the UK, including Germany, Italy and Spain.