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Scotland’s ‘R’ number must be published daily

The Scottish Conservatives have called on Nicola Sturgeon to start publishing Scotland’s ‘R’ number in relation to coronavirus transmission every day.

In a letter to Jackson Carlaw, the First Minister said Scotland’s reproductive rate was still between 0.7 and 1, while in the wider UK it was between 0.5 and 0.9.

It’s that difference which the SNP is citing to delay the lifting of lockdown restrictions north of the border.

Now the Scottish Conservatives have said the number should be updated on a daily basis and made public, in the same way as Covid-19 figures on hospital admissions and deaths.

And the party said the statistics should be broken down regionally, to provide even more insight into how different parts of the country were coping with the pandemic.

Ms Sturgeon was responding to a letter from the leader of the opposition which sought clarity on the Scottish Government’s approach to the ‘R’ number.

But she said it was unlikely the Scottish Government would pursue regional variations of that number, claiming it would “introduce a greater level of uncertainty”.

That’s despite experts already saying there are notable differences in infection rates depending on which part of Scotland you look at.

Scottish Conservative leader Jackson Carlaw said:

“The ‘R’ number is becoming increasingly important as we prepare to lift some of these crippling lockdown restrictions.

“As such, the SNP government needs to be more up front about what the ‘R’ number actually is, and update the public on a daily basis.

“That would help add to public understanding, and increase the accountability and transparency Nicola Sturgeon claims to be committed to.

“It would also provide people and businesses with a pattern of where we are in this crisis, and what the prospects are of things getting back to normal.

“We know the data for the ‘R’ number exists, and we know it exists for regions of Scotland as well as the national figure.

“By breaking down these numbers regionally, it could also help various parts of the country understand the impact of the virus, and how close they are to overcoming it.

“It’s only right this information is shared with the public regularly.”

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