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Scotland to ban large gatherings to delay coronavirus spread, Nicola Sturgeon says

Large gatherings are set to be cancelled in a bid to delay the outbreak of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has announced (PA)

Scotland will cancel gatherings of more than 500 people in a bid to delay the outbreak of coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday.

The first minister said she would be advising cancellations to start from Monday.

She told the Scottish parliament: “Mass gatherings are required to be policed, they require to have emergency ambulance cover, they require the services of our voluntary health services, and at a time when we need to be reducing the pressures on these front-line workers in order to free them up on the significant challenge that lies ahead, I do think it is inappropriate that we continue as normal.”

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Sturgeon said any decision on whether to close schools has not yet been made, in light of the anticipated move by the government from the contain phase to the delay phase – which could see mass gatherings banned in the whole of the UK.

Explaining the reasons behind the decision to cancel mass gatherings, Sturgeon added: "That is principally to protect the resilience of our front-line workers, and we will continue to take decisions in collaboration with the other nations of the UK around issues like schools in the future, but driven very much by the scientific advice."

Coronavirus cases across Europe (PA)

Ahead of the announcement at 2pm of how many people in Scotland have currently been diagnosed with coronavirus, Sturgeon said she expects a "sharp rise in cases".

Responding to Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw at First Minister’s Questions, Sturgeon added: "We may also see further evidence of community transmission of coronavirus.

Boris Johnson is expected to announce further measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus. (AP)

"That underlines the seriousness of the situation we are all facing."

The Scottish government's national clinical director Jason Leitch had said previously that community transmission of Covid-19 – when the source of the transfer could not be traced – would be a "trigger" for the move from the contain phase to the delay phase.

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