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Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon warns ‘mental health legacy’ will outlast illness as death toll in Scotland rises by 81

© Jane Barlow/PA WireScotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon warned the “mental health legacy” from coronavirus will be felt long after the outbreak is over as the number of deaths recorded in Scotland rose by 81 overnight.

Ms Sturgeon said the number of positive tests had increased by 392 since Wednesday’s update to a total of 4,957, with the death toll surging to 447.

She also confirmed 221 people are currently in intensive care with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19.

The first minister warned Scotland will be faced with a “mental health legacy” from coronavirus long after social distancing restrictions are lifted.

In response to a question from Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie at the first ever virtual first minister’s questions, Ms Sturgeon confirmed extra funding had been made available for counselling services to combat the strain.

She said this would include virtual cognitive behavioural therapy sessions and an expansion of services such as Breathing Space.

“Not just in the immediate phase of dealing with this, but I suspect for a long time afterwards, we’re going to be dealing with a mental health legacy of it,” Ms Sturgeon said.

“We have to make sure that the services that provide the help that people need are there and that means expanding access to counselling now, but looking ahead to make sure that these services are appropriate in the future as well.”

The first minister said mental health continued to be “very high on the priority list of the Scottish Government”.

She also confirmed 136,000 people have been identified in the high risk category by health professionals but so far just 21,000 have registered for free deliveries of food and medicine offered by the Scottish Government.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Just under 6,000 food packages have been ordered and we have a national contract with two supermarkets in place for the delivery of those food boxes, free of charge.

“4,200 have already been delivered, so that process is under way.

“We’re also working with supermarkets, for people who want to get their deliveries via supermarkets of their own choice.

“A text will go to people who’ve registered from the service, I hope later today, asking them if they want their details passed to the supermarket, that will then be a priority service delivered by the supermarket, which we expect to be up and running in the early part of next week.

“We’ve taken some time to make sure this is a system and a service that is reliable and robust, but I would stress that people do not have to rely on normal supermarkets slots because the national contract that is in place with Brakes and Bidfood will mean that people get these food boxes delivered free of charge if they register for that service and ask for that service to be delivered to them.”