SCOTLAND’S chief medical officer believes the number of people infected with coronavirus in the country may have reached 65,000.

Chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, said most of those wouldn’t even know they had it.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed that a further eight people have died in Scotland as a result of the pandemic.

That took the total number of deaths to 33. The First Minister also announced an increase of 165 in confirmed cases, up to 1059.

UPDATE: Today the deaths have reached 40.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde has recorded the highest number of cases with 299, followed by Lanarkshire with 140 and Lothian with 139.

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Across the UK, the number of deaths has now reached 759, a rise of 181, the largest daily jump so far. 14,543 people have tested positive, an increase of 2885 in 24 hours.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily briefing, the Chief Medical Officer said: “I was quoted yesterday in some of the press as estimating there were between 40,000 and 50,000 people in Scotland with coronavirus.

“While it’s dangerous to go day-by-day, I want to really emphasise that I would now be estimating that there are more than 65,000 people in Scotland infected.

“The importance there is that only 1000 or so people have actually been confirmed. So the vast majority of those people maybe do not realise they have coronavirus, or perhaps have symptoms.”

Calderwood added: “There will come a time where I will be able to talk to you about the numbers being infected and that rate slowing, but that time is not yet and that time will not be for some weeks to come.”

With Scots ready to face their first weekend under lockdown, the Scottish Government moved to announce £3.8 million of funding for mental health support.

Addressing Scots directly, Sturgeon said: “We’re about to go into the first weekend since the lockdown measures were announced.

The National:

“I know many of you watching will already be struggling with being cooped up in the house as much as you are right now and being unable to do all the normal things that you would normally be looking forward to be doing at the weekend, but it is vital that all of us stick with this.

“The most important thing all of us can do for the NHS is to follow the advice and to stay at home, whenever possible.”

The majority of the funding, £2.1m, will be for the NHS Mental Health Hub, which offers advice on wellbeing and mental health issues to people who call NHS 24. It will pay for 27 full-time equivalent psychological wellbeing practitioners, five mental health nurse practitioners and two senior charge nurses, and allow the service become a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week operation. Currently, it’s only open out-of-hours an at weekends.

Another half a million of will go to support Breathing Space, a free, confidential phone and web-based service for people in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “We understand very much that this particular time is causing many people real anxiety and concern. NHS 24 has already seen an increase in the number of calls that they are taking.

“The £3.8m does two things in particular; it allows us to scale up the Mental Health Hub to 24-hour cover by bringing in additional psychological wellbeing practitioners and mental health nurse practitioners, and we will also benefit from the involvement of clinical psychology students who are not only applying their expertise, but themselves are getting valuable experience in doing so.”

She went on: “Additionally, the funding will allow us to offer an increased service through digital Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. That gives support to the public with very specific issues around anxiety, sleeping problems, depression, and so on.

“It allows some of that treatment to be delivered digitally, thereby meaning that people don’t have to travel in order to get it, of course.

“It really is very important in times that are very different for everyone that we all pay attention to our own mental health, and to the mental health of those around us, and treat that as seriously as we would any physical problem or difficulty that we might have.”

Mental Health Foundation Scotland policy manager Toni Giugliano welcomed the funding.

He said: “It’s crucial that people with existing mental health problems continue to be supported and that people who experience distress know where to turn for help.”