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Coronavirus / First Minister announces further drastic measures to combat coronavirus pandemic

ALL schools and nurseries in Scotland are to close from Friday, Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has announced this lunchtime.

Schools could stay closed until the summer break; there was no guarantee that they would open again after the Easter break the First Minister said.

Further measures will be announced soon to support low income students as well as those who have exams.

Sturgeon reiterated the advice that staying at home to help prevent the virus spreading to friends and others was vital.

Meanwhile the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Shetland has risen to 16. There are 227 confirmed cases in Scotland. The true figure of infections will be substantially higher.

The First minister said: “This has been one of the hardest decisions we have faced so far as we tackle the coronavirus. SAGE – our expert scientific advisers – are examining new advice that is very likely to tell us to close schools.

“We also know more and more schools are approaching a point where they have lost too many staff to continue as normal. At this stage I cannot promise schools and nurseries will reopen after the Easter break.

“There will require to be a lot of local flexibility and we are working closely with local authorities to put those arrangements in place.”

Meanwhile an additional £350 million have been made available to go towards the most affected by the coronavirus  pandemic, communities secretary Aileen Campbell has said.

The funding will be made available to councils, charities, businesses and community groups.

Campbell said: “This pandemic will disrupt lives like never before and cause financial hardship and negatively impact on our wellbeing. Be assured, however, that protecting and supporting people during these unparalleled times is the absolute focus of this government.

“Our funding package will be focused on delivery, not bureaucracy or red tape. Local authorities, local businesses, community groups and the third sector know and understand the support needs of their communities the best. Where people and organisations have solutions or ideas, I want to hear them.”

More to follow …