Warning that Scotland’s coronavirus death toll will rise

Nicola Sturgeon at today's media briefing about the coronavirus

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Seventy more deaths have been registered to coronavirus in Scotland bringing the total to 366, the First Minister has told a news conference.

Yet more detailed weekly reporting figures on the way from National Records Scotland (NRS) look certain to increase the total further, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.

She conceded today that keeping track of the numbers of deaths from COVID-19 had become ‘more complicated’.

She said: ‘For our daily update figure – the ones which you have heard me give every afternoon at these conferences, we now report on deaths registered by the National Records of Scotland, where the individual has been tested and confirmed as having COVID-19.

‘In the last 24 hours, 70 deaths have been registered in this way and that takes the total deaths in Scotland, under that measurement, to 366. These figures are the best figures and most accurate figures that we can provide on a daily basis.’

But she said that the daily figures did not capture all deaths and that the new weekly figures would likely overtake the daily totals provided.

‘This new report by NRS captures all deaths registered within a seven-day period. That includes those who have died with a confirmed laboratory diagnosis of COVID-19 and also those whose deaths are presumed to be linked to COVID-19. That means the NRS report also includes cases where COVID-19 is registered on the death certificate as a suspected cause of death or as a contributing factor in someone’s death, but where no formal test has been carried out.

‘The number of deaths covered under this reporting system is therefore larger than under the daily reporting system when you compare the two figures on the same date. It is almost unfortunately more accurate.’

As of 9am today in Scotland, there were 4,565 positive cases of the virus – a rise of 336 on Tuesday.

Admissions to hospital with suspected coronavirus overnight increased to a total 1,171 patients – up 20 on yesterday.

A total of 210 people are being held in intensive care with confirmed or suspected coronavirus, which represents 11 more people needing specialist help, the media briefing at Holyrood was told.

Scotland’s 14 regional health boards will publish their figures for hospital patients and those in intensive care at 2pm today.