March 2, 2021

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Coronavirus live: UK lockdown ‘long way’ from lifting, says Hancock; Israel still seeing cases after first Pfizer jab administered

Scotland’s deputy first minister John Swinney says he cannot rule out tougher restrictions, as he revealed that the use of higher grade face coverings, for example, is being “actively explored”.

Swinney told Sunday Politics Scotland that there had been a reduction of about a third in the level of cases in the past fortnight which is “very encouraging given the very alarming acceleration in cases which took place just after Christmas.

We are making progress under the measures we have in place. We will continue to look at what else might be possible to continue that progress.

Asked about return to schools, he said that he hoped to give two weeks’ notice to parents about return to face to face learning, and that the Scottish government was exploring the earlier return of particular groups including early learning and childcare, younger primary pupils, older pupils doing national qualifications and those with additional support needs.

Asked why Scotland’s vaccine rollout was initially slower than elsewhere in the UK, Nicola Sturgeon said that the Scottish government had taken a deliberate decision, in line with JCVI advice, to focus initially on care home residents. She pointed out that Matt Hancock told Marr that three-quarters of those in England had been vaccinated – in Scotland that figure is now 95%.

“It takes longer, it’s more resource intensive to do care homes, but it’s the right decision,” she said. She added that 40% of over 80s in Scotland had now been vaccinated and that the Scottish government was “well on track to complete all over 80s by the beginning of February.” She said that over 70s will start getting their appointments from tomorrow.

She said that 400,000 doses had now been administered in Scotland, while the remaining doses in Scotland’s 700,000 allocation were being distributed to health boards and GPs.