18:17 GMT04 December 2020
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    For three consecutive days Scotland has reported no coronavirus related deaths with just eight people testing positive for the virus on Sunday. A professor in public health at the University of Edinburgh has said if cases continue to stay low it would be possible to prevent further outbreaks by using contact tracing.

    A public health expert has said that Scotland could be “Covid-free by the end of the summer”, if cases continue to decline.

    At the time of publication there have been no coronavirus related deaths in the country for a third day running.

    Devi Sridhar, Professor and Chair of Global Public Health at the University of Edinburgh told the BBC that Scotland would be Covid free if that progress continued.

    However she warned that the main challenge would be to stop new cases from coming into the country.

    She said, "I think Scotland is on track to eliminate coronavirus by the end of the summer by looking at the rate of the decrease in new cases.”

    "But we are going to see little bumps, so it's a question of how small can you keep those bumps."

    First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she felt a sense of “relief” as the number of coronavirus deaths have continued to fall in Scotland.

    ​On Friday Sturgeon said, "Suppressing the virus, driving it as far as we can towards total elimination, has to be our overriding priority."

    According to official figures released on Sunday there are eight new confirmed cases of coronavirus. This is a huge decrease compared to the 430 cases a day recorded in April during the virus’s peak.

    Professor Sridhar said that if cases continued to stay at that level and it was possible to trace those people and isolate their contacts, then it would mean Scotland could be Covid free by the end of the summer.

    Professor Sridhar, who sits on the Scottish government's Covid-19 advisory group said at this point in time the aim is to suppress the virus, rather than immediate elimination. She said her main concern was managing the importation of new cases. 

    Scotland shares an open border with England, where hundreds of cases are still being reported daily and Scottish government sources have said people travelling from England may be asked to quarantine for 14 days or face a fine, if cases rise again, as reported by the Times. 

    Professor Sridhar also said Scotland’s handling of the lockdown easing in July would determine whether schools could fully reopen in August.

    She told the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme,"July is a crucial month for people to follow the rules and guidance, and be sensible because the virus is still around and can still increase quite fast within days and weeks."

    Sir Ian Boyd, a professor of biology at St. Andrews University, who also sits on the Sage scientific advisory group said there could be a “new normality” in which the virus will never truly go away.

    He said, "We've only ever managed to completely eliminate one viral disease from the global population - and that's smallpox.

     "And that was only done because of a global effort, with a very high quality vaccine."

    He added, while Scotland was doing comparatively well, the country could not be "excessively optimistic about how much control we have over this disease".

    So far in Scotland a total of 2,482 people have died after testing positive for coronavirus.


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