Coronavirus: Death rate in Scotland returns to normal levels

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The total number of people who are dying in Scotland has returned to normal levels, according to official figures.

The National Records of Scotland (NRS) said a total of 1,006 people died between 22 and 28 June.

This was actually slightly lower than the average of 1,026 deaths recorded in the same week over the past five years.

The figures reflect the continuing fall in the number of coronavirus deaths in Scotland.

There were 35 deaths linked to the virus last week - the lowest number since the middle of March.

This was a decrease of 14 on the previous week, and means the country's coronavirus death rate has now fallen for nine weeks in a row.

Deaths linked to coronavirus accounted for just 3% of all deaths registered during the week. The figure was 36% at the height of the pandemic.

It is the first time since the start of the pandemic that the total number of deaths from all causes was below Scotland's five-year average for the time of year.

Excess deaths. .  .

However, the figures also showed that 2,417 more people have died at home in Scotland during the pandemic than would have been expected based on the average of the past five years

The total number of deaths where coronavirus is known or suspected to have been a factor now stands at 4,155.

Separate figures released on Tuesday showed the number of deaths across the UK as a whole has also fallen below the five-year average.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the statistics showed the "real and sustained progress" that Scotland is making in tackling the virus.

But she stressed that the numbers still "speak of heartbreak for many of our fellow citizens".

media captionCoronavirus: Scotland's death rate returns to normal levels

Ms Sturgeon also said a cross-border cluster of cases spread between Dumfries and Galloway and the northwest of England was a "sharp reminder" that the virus is still a threat.

The "small but complex" cluster is thought to include fewer than ten cases, and efforts are under way to trace the contacts of those who have tested positive.

A cross-border incident management team has also been established to ensure appropriate measures are being put in place.

Ms Sturgeon said she hoped the current containment measures would be sufficient, but that "other interventions might become necessary" - drawing a comparison to the local lockdown measures recently imposed in Leicester.

The first minister has previously said Scotland was "not far away" from eliminating coronavirus.

But she has warned people not to let their guard down and become complacent as the country begins to open up again, and has said "unpopular decision" could still need to be taken to prevent a resurgence.

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