The Scottish Government has continued to defend the speed of the coronavirus vaccine roll-out.
During a briefing to parliament at which it was announced no changes would be made to the current restrictions, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the situation remains “precarious” as the country tries to stem the spread of the virus.
The Scottish Conservatives claim the SNP government had left around “half a million” inoculations in storage.
Mr Swinney told parliament the Scottish Government did not have “500,000 vaccines in our hands, at the moment”.
Case numbers remain ‘too high’
A further 87 coronavirus deaths and 1,049 more cases were recorded in the past 24 hours across Scotland.
The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 5,796.
In Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire two and three additional deaths, respectively, were recorded in the last 24 hours.
Angus recorded one new death, Dundee four, Fife two and Perth and Kinross three.
In Highland a further two deaths have been recorded, while in Moray one person has died as a result of the virus.
No further deaths have been recorded in Orkney, Shetland and the Western Isles.
Of the cases reported on Tuesday, the test positivity rate stood at 9% – up slightly from 8.6% on the previous day, when 752 new cases were recorded.
There were 2,010 people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 on January 26 – down six in 24 hours – with 149 in intensive care.
Help for students
Swinney, who also serves as Education Secretary, told MSPs a total of £30 million would be made available to higher and further education, with the other £10 million helping to pay for rent refunds to students paying for but not using accommodation.
Details of the scheme for students will be released soon.
Mr Swinney said the impact of Covid-19 on students has been significant, with the Scottish Government not allowing travel back to campus for fear of spreading the virus.
Vaccine roll-out defended
Public Health Scotland statistics show 437,900 people in the country had received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 8.30am on Tuesday, an increase of 22,498 from the previous day.
An additional 6,060 people have received the second dose, a rise of 522.
The figures show more than 51% of people over 80 in the community have been given a first dose, along with 98% of frontline health and social care workers, 95% of residents in older adult care homes and 83% of staff in these homes.
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “On Sunday the number of vaccinations was the lowest yet and Nicola Sturgeon tried to blame the slow vaccine rollout over the weekend on delayed data.
“Today’s figures have exposed that as absolute nonsense. The SNP’s vaccine rollout is behind schedule and it’s entirely their fault.
“The SNP have hundreds of thousands of doses sitting in storage, ready to be used, but they’re failing to deliver. The pace should be picking up, not standing still.
“Their own plan says the vaccines are available for overnight delivery but GPs are still telling us they’re not getting supplies quickly enough.
“BMA Scotland have said that vaccinating over 70s and the most vulnerable by mid-February is now a ‘big ask’, confirming our concerns that the SNP are way off the pace and their own targets are in jeopardy.
“Reports of over 70s having to travel miles away from their GP to get the vaccine is exactly the postcode lottery we’ve warned could happen for months. Publishing individual health board plans would help us to spot problems early and fix them, so we hope that happens immediately.”
Mr Swinney told the chamber progress is being made.
He said: “More vaccines have been allocated to Scotland than the number that we have in our hands. Those will be drawn down as soon as the distributors are able to verify the supplies and to distribute them to us in Scotland. That is the orderly path that we are taking.”
“I reassure the Parliament and members of the public that good progress is being made on delivery of the vaccine to the over-80s.
“We have already reached more than 95 per cent of care home residents, whom we know are most at risk of morbidity from Covid.
“We have reached the majority of over-80s and the task will be completed by the end of the first week in February. We will then move on to complete first doses for the next priority group by the middle of February, as we announced.
“We are on course to complete vaccination of all over-80-year-olds by the end of the first week in February. The progress that has been made reaffirms the pattern of delivery. Letters are now arriving at the households of individuals in the over-70s group, inviting them to come for their vaccinations.”