THE Scottish Government is to introduce new powers to intervene in failing care homes during the coronavirus pandemic, health secretary Jeane Freeman has announced.

Speaking at the government's daily briefing on Sunday, Ms Freeman said amendments to the Coronavirus (Scotland) (No. 2) Bill will be considered by the Scottish Parliament this week.

The changes will mean that if there is a "significant risk" to care home residents or "a provider was unable to continue to deliver care due to failure, Scottish Ministers and public bodies have the power to intervene".

Every NHS health board and local authority will be required from this week to set up an oversight team to hold daily discussions about the quality of care and infection prevention and control in care homes.

The oversight teams will have the ability to escalate issues to the Care Inspectorate and Scottish Government, who will be able to use the new emergency powers.

Ms Freeman said there have been instances where care standards during the pandemic have "fallen short".

She added: "These new arrangements will ensure clarity and consistency across the country about the role of health boards and local authorities in helping to keep their residents safe from coronavirus and should be seen alongside other recent action the Scottish Government has taken, including publishing revised guidance for the sector, and amendments to the Coronavirus Bill being discussed at parliament this week.

"I want to assure staff, residents and their families that a safe residential environment in care homes remains our top priority."

A total of 45 per cent of adult care homes are dealing with a current case of the virus, with 58 per cent recording at least one case with the Care Inspectorate since the start of the epidemic.