Nicola Sturgeon was back in Parliament today giving an update on the Covid situation in Scotland. 

It comes the day after the first minister set out Scotland's Programme for Government, which includes proposals for a Covid Recovery Bill and support for the NHS Recovery Plan. 

Covid rates have been surging in Scotland since rules relaxed on August 9; just two days ago, Scotland recorded over 7,000 daily cases, however today's figures saw a drop to 5,810. 

Earlier this week the UK government was forced to deny they were considering a firebreaker lockdown in October to put a halt to spreading cases, which has been attributed to the Delta variant. 

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon has previously said she could not rule out the reintroduction of measures if they were deemed required. 

Tomorrow, MSPs will vote on the use of vaccine passports to access certain events in Scotland from the end of September, as proposed by the Scottish government last week as a mitigation measure. 

Today, the first minister confirmed how else the government would tackle the ongoing prevalence of Covid in Scotland. 

Here are 5 things we learned from Nicola Sturgeon's Covid update today... 

1. Cases below 6,000 for a second day in a row

For the second day in a row, cases are below 6,000 for the first time in over a week. 

Scotland recorded 5,810 cases over the past 24-hours, up from 5,692 cases the previous day. 

82 people were in intensive care with Covid, while 883 people were in hospital, 78 more than yesterday. 

Meanwhile, another 17 deaths were recorded. 

Nicola Sturgeon said that the figures showed we are still experiencing a surge in cases in Scotland. 

However, she added that they could also be a tentative indication of a slowing rate of increase, which she called a cause for "cautious optimism".  

Over the past week, 75% of all cases in those aged under 45, and while cases amongst this age group have continued to rise, the increase has been at a slower rate than previous weeks. 

The first minister said: "So the rate of increase has slowed - and that may suggest that the appeal to individuals and businesses over the past two weeks to improve compliance with basic mitigations and be more cautious in our everyday behaviours, is having some impact."

She added: "This data, showing what seems to be a slowing in the rate of increase in new cases, gives us more cause for cautious optimism.

"But, and I’m afraid this is the hard part, cases are still rising and they are currently at their highest levels since the start of the pandemic."

The government will therefore continue to monitor the situation in Scotland, with the first minister once again refusing to rule out taking firther action to curb the virus.

"That is why we must continue to monitor the situation very closely and be prepared - as any responsible government must be - to take any targeted and proportionate action that we consider necessary to keep the country as safe as possible."

2. Vaccine passports could be key in reducing harm from Covid, according to Sturgeon

Ahead of the vote tomorrow on the use vaccine passports at certain events in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon made a further case for the measure in Parliament today. 

Last week the Scottish governement proposed the introduction of vaccine passports at events including: 

  • nightclubs
  • indoor live events with 500+ people unseated
  • outdoor live events with 4000+ people unseated
  • any event with 10,000+ people

The Conservatives, Labour and the Lib Dems are expected to vote against the measure on Thursday, however if SNP and Green MSPs back the move, it could be brought in from later this month. 

The first minister highlighted that Scotland was not alone in considering such a scheme, adding that several governments in Europe had already introduced a similar initiative. 

She added: "Fundamentally, we believe that certification can help us reduce the overall harms caused by the pandemic. It will to help to reduce transmission in some higher risk settings, and it will maximise protection against serious illness."

3. Scotland standing ready to introduce booster jabs 

Earlier this year, certain groups were highlighted to get priority for Covid booster jabs, including over 70s, health and care workers, older care home residents and the clinically extremely vulnerable.

Last week, the JCVI advised that those with certain health conditions that suppress their immune systems should be given a booster jag, which the Scottish government will implement over the next few weeks.

The Scottish government is also awaiting detailed advice from the JCVI on a more general booster jab scheme, and stands ready to roll out the scheme as soon as they receive the guidance, according to the first minister.

4. 12-15 year old Scots might still be vaccinated - decision coming in days

Despite the advice published by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) against vaccinating children aged 12-15, Scotland might still vaccinate young people in this age group. 

The final decision will be made by the Chief Medical Officers (CMO) of the devolved nations, who have been asked to carry out a "rapid assessment of the latest evidence and provide advice on wider benefits."

Scotland has always followed the advice of the JCVI throughout the pandemic, so if they decide to vaccinate 12-15 years, it would be a marked step away from this track record.

However, the JCVI acknowledged "that it would be appropriate for governments to consider any wider benefits of vaccination – for example, reducing disruption to education."

5. No mention of  a firebreaker lockdown

Nicola Sturgeon made no mention of a firebreaker lockdown in October. 

Reports earlier this week suggested that the UK government was discussing the potential for a circuit breaker lockdown in October in order to halt the spread of the Delta variant.

However, the first minister made no mention of such a lockdown today in her speech.