NICOLA Sturgeon has urged Scots to volunteer and get involved in the battle against coronavirus.

The new Scotland Cares programme will open today, with people “who are currently fit and healthy, and perhaps no longer for the time being at work” asked to do their bit to help the health service.

Sturgeon’s announcement of a Scottish volunteer programme comes as the NHS in England paused recruitment to their own scheme after 750,000 people responded in less than a week, far exceeding government expectations.

READ MORE: A map of every Scottish coronavirus community aid support group

Yesterday, at her daily coronavirus briefing, Sturgeon said the best way to support the NHS was “for all of us to follow the rules and stay at home as much as possible”.

But, she added, there were “many people who are currently fit and healthy and perhaps no longer for the time being at work or at university, and are looking for other ways to help”.

The First Minister said those keen to offer their services should go to and register as either a returning health or social care worker or to “volunteer more generally to help the NHS or the wider response effort”.

Sturgeon added: “We’re working with the Red Cross, who will be coordinating community reserve volunteers across the country. The site will also provide information about volunteering opportunities with existing organisations through Volunteer Scotland.

“And this means that people who are able to, will be able to contribute in a way which makes a real difference within their local community.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Where in Scotland is Covid-19 most prevalent?

“It will help people help each other, as we all seek to get this through and get through this together.

She also encouraged Scots to lend a “clean hand” to neighbours and family.

The First Minister also said the Scottish Government had now organised 34 million items of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospitals.

Jeane Freeman, the Health Secretary (below), said: “The safety of our health and social care workforce is an absolute priority, and we are continuously looking to improve the distribution of the protective equipment that is so vital in the fight against Covid-19.

“These improvements will help to make sure we continue to deliver supplies needed – even in the face of unprecedented demand across the health and social care system. We currently have adequate stocks of PPE – equating to six weeks’ worth of hospital stock for the most critical items.

The National:

“We will be issuing almost eight million items of PPE stock in the coming week to support primary care and social care. Work continues as an absolute priority to source further PPE to ensure there continues to be an appropriate supply for all our health and social care workforce.”

There’s been some criticism from medics in recent weeks about a lack of protection when dealing with a highly contagious virus.

Lewis Morrison, the chairman of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Scotland, said medics were feeling angry and afraid.

“On top of this we are now hearing that some doctors are buying or considering buying their own scrubs because there are shortages,” he wrote on the BMA Scotland website.

The Government also announced the delivery of eight weeks’ worth of PPE to all GP surgeries, and a separate supply for social care providers

The volunteering initiative was welcomed by the opposition parties.

The National:

Tory MSP Miles Briggs (above) said he was “pleased to see this announcement to help provide the much needed community capacity to support our NHS and people who have been told to long-term self-isolate”.

He added: “We can all play our part to support the national effort and thousands of Scots will be ready to help our neighbours.”

Alison Johnstone from the Scottish Greens said: “In the face of this unprecedented emergency our frontline staff are facing huge pressure and that is likely to be ramped up in the weeks ahead. Anything we can do to support those key workers is very welcome.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Frontline police to receive protective equipment next week

Though, she added, there were still concerns about PPE.

“Healthcare workers and other emergency staff are raising concerns that this equipment isn’t reaching the frontline.

“It is vital that the Scottish Government ensures the staff who are going the extra mile for us all, have the necessary equipment readily available to allow them to do their jobs safely.”

The National:

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard (above) agreed: “We have seen Scotland at its best in recent weeks as communities have come together to support our public services and people in need, and we welcome the creation of a volunteer force.”

He added: “We welcome the provision of PPE in the health service but health and social care workers should have been supplied with this from the off.

“And what they are supplied with needs to comply with UK guidance and World Health Organisation recommended standards at all times.”

In the briefing Sturgeon also revealed that a reduced number of MSPs – to ensure safe social distancing – would sit in parliament on Wednesday to debate and pass emergency legislation.

READ MORE: Mass graves could be introduced if limited morgue spaces fill

Details of the Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill, will be revealed on Tuesday, but it’s set to include a measure to stop evictions during the outbreak.

The legislation, which is the result of all-party discussions, and complements the UK government bill given consent by MSPs last week, will do this by increasing the notice of eviction a landlord must give a tenant to six months.

It also designed to “support businesses, consumers and public services during a period of acute pressure” and to make “adjustments to criminal procedure and to other aspects of the justice system, to ensure essential justice business can continue throughout the coronavirus outbreak”.

The majority of measures in the bill will automatically expire six months after they come into force, however, MSPs may extend these measures for two further periods of six months.