Coronavirus 'could close Scottish schools', says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon says schools in Scotland could close in an effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. (Jane Barlow/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

The Scottish government may have to consider closing schools and delaying non-urgent hospital procedures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The first minister revealed the measures as the amount of people diagnosed with Covid-19 in Scotland rose to 23 on Monday.

Sturgeon said she expected the number to rise "perhaps rapidly in the days to come".

She said: "It is now likely that we are facing a significant outbreak of coronavirus across the UK.”

In an interview on Sunday, Sturgeon said that when containing the virus "ceases to be possible", action will be taken to slow down its spread.

Nicola Sturgeon meets staff supporting Scotland's public information response to the coronavirus. (Jane Barlow/Pool/Getty Images)

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She said: "There are balances – quite difficult balances – and quite difficult judgements to be made here.

"We have some of the best scientists in the country looking at the kind of measures that would have the greatest impact on slowing down the spread of the virus.

"That has to be balanced by how practical those measures are to implement and, of course, the society and economic impact.

"There are some careful judgements that politicians and ministers will have to take but the focus is on doing everything we possible can to slow down the spread of this."

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Work to increase capacity in hospitals could include the postponement of non-urgent procedures.

A spokesperson for the Scottish government told Yahoo News that the latest advice from Health Protection Scotland urges “routine cleaning of phones and keypads”.

It also says food should not be left open for people to share.

She added: “The central piece of advice is still to wash hands thoroughly.”

Read more: Foreign Office advises against travel to northern Italy

Boris Johnson held an emergency Cobra meeting on Monday morning.

A Downing Street spokesperson said afterwards that the UK was still in the "contain" phase of dealing with the outbreak and was not yet moving to the "delay" stage.