People with mild symptoms of coronavirus could be asked to stay at home, Nicola Sturgeon has warned.
The UK government’s chief medical adviser, Prof Chris Whitty has said people who show “even minor” signs of respiratory tract infections or a fever will soon be told to self-isolate.
Ms Sturgeon has echoed the warning, adding that there is an “increasing inevitability” of a major outbreak.
There have now been 23 confirmed coronavirus cases in Scotland.
Scotland and the UK remains in the “containment phase” but both governments have warned a move to the “delay” stage is “highly likely”.
This could involve the closure of schools and the cancellation of large public events. People would also be encouraged to work from home and discouraged from using public transport.
Moving to the delay phase would seek to push back the peak of the epidemic to the summer.
Currently, only people with serious symptoms of a possible coronavirus infection are being asked to self-isolate but this could be changed to those showing mild symptoms within the next 10 to 14 days.
Speaking at a news conference in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “At some stage advising people with milder symptoms to stay at home is one of the things that people should perhaps expect.
“To do that now, which we are not advising, would not be appropriate because right now the vast majority of people with mild symptoms won’t have coronavirus but over the next couple of weeks that may change and therefore mild symptoms may become more indicative of coronavirus.”
Ms Sturgeon added that any changes in advice to the public would be driven by “good quality scientific advice”.
The first minister also said was currently “not appropriate” to cancel large-scale events and that schools in Scotland would remain open for now, but that policy would be kept “under review”.
The University of the West of Scotland has confirmed that one person from its Lanarkshire campus in Hamilton has tested positive.
The Stewart and Stewart dental practice in Cumbernauld later said it had temporarily closed as a precaution after as positive case had been identified there.
There have also been two new positive tests in Lothian, and two in Shetland.
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Ireland’s Six Nations rugby match in France on Saturday was postponed, following an earlier decision to postpone England’s match in Italy.
The Wales game against Scotland in Cardiff is to go ahead as scheduled.
The 2020 Diabetes UK Professional Conference that was due to go ahead at the SEC in Glasgow from 18 March has been cancelled.
Diabetes UK said it “did not believe it would be right or responsible to proceed with holding the conference when the NHS is in such need of its expert workforce”.
Positive news Numbers are building up
Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood said the the public should not be reassured by the small numbers of cases in Scotland so far.
She said: “This is what happened in England, there were even some days at the beginning of the outbreak where there were no new cases in England, we may have that as well.
“But the way this virus is transmitting and spreading I don’t think we can take reassurance that the slowness is going to be anything other than building up.”
Earlier, the Scottish government issued new guidance for workplaces aimed at slowing the spread of coronavirus,
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It urges routine cleaning of phones and keypads and warns against sharing food.
Positive news Does the winter flu remain a worry?
As the number of cases of Coronavirus in Scotland continues to rise, the incidence of seasonal flu has tailed off significantly, according to analysis by Health Protection Scotland.
Dr Jim McMenamin, from the health body, said: “The flu season this year occurred earlier in the winter than in many previous seasons.
“Numbers of cases had already tailed off significantly before the international reporting of COVID-19.”
But he added that it was difficult to infer any relationship between low current flu figures and the increased hand washing and awareness about sneezing and coughing publicised by the coronavirus outbreak.
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