Scotland has recorded its biggest daily rise in confirmed coronavirus cases in almost a month after easing lockdown restrictions earlier this week.
Data from the Scottish government released on Saturday showed 21 new cases over a 24-hour period – the highest number since 21 June, when 26 positive test results were recorded.
The figures came as Scotland entered its first weekend of pubs and restaurants being allowed to open indoor areas since March, following the opening of beer gardens and outdoor cafes last weekend.
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Customers will be asked to provide their name and a phone number when visiting pubs and restaurants as part of the government’s contact tracing scheme, with enhanced hygiene measures and social distancing rules also in place.
John Swinney, Scotland’s deputy first minister, warned the public that the jump in positive cases showed the threat from the virus was ongoing.
“Thankfully another day of no deaths recorded due to Covid. 21 positive cases however remind us of the danger still out there,” Mr Swinney wrote on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, first minister Nicola Sturgeon also warned people to “not drop their guard” as restrictions are lifted.
However, Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, tried to ease concerns over the increase by saying he expected to see “day-to-day variation” in the number of new cases.
Mr Leitch told BBC Scotland he did not believe the new cases were part of a cluster, as eight of the positive tests came from NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, five from NHS Lothian and the rest from seven other health boards.
“I expect day-to-day variation and the next thing I look at is the spread around the country,” he said.
“So 21 in one small town would worry me much more than 21 spread around the country – and these 21 are spread around the country.”
With no new deaths, the country’s total number of fatalities remained unchanged at 2,491 on Saturday, while a total of 18,422 people have now tested positive for the virus in Scotland.
There are 305 people, including three in intensive care, currently in hospital with confirmed Covid-19, a decrease of 11 from Friday.
Additional reporting by PA