SCOTLAND’S coronavirus death rate will be lower than the rest of the UK’s because lockdown measures were brought in at an earlier stage of its “epidemic curve”, experts have said.

The spread of the virus in the country is thought to be lagging around a week behind London. The English capital’s unexpectedly quick transmission rates led epidemiologists to push the UK Government into implementing restrictions faster than intended.

The move meant all pubs, restaurants and leisure venues were told to shut on the same weekend across the UK, with non-essential shops asked to do the same shortly after. However experts say some of the effects of these actions will be more pronounced in Scotland.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Nicola Sturgeon fires back at Tory MP Douglas Ross

Professor Jimmy Whitworth, an expert in international public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told The Herald: “The epidemic is at an earlier stage in Scotland than in England, certainly than London and the South-East which seems to have had the initial burst of cases.

“It is pretty clear when you look at the data for different countries that the earlier you introduce these measures the more effective they are, so in that respect if they were introduced in Scotland – or Scotland was part of them – at an earlier stage then it will have had more effect.

“Overall, you don’t get such high peaks in your case numbers and your deaths.”

Scotland’s first coronavirus case was reported in the Tayside area on March 1 after a resident had recently returned from northern Italy. At that point many parts of England had already seen evidence of community transmission – meaning Covid-19 was spreading among people living there, rather than being brought back from particularly affected areas around the world like Italy, Spain or Iran.

Scotland has now had 60 deaths from Covid-19 in its population of 5.4 million, while 1651 people have passed away south of the Border – where the population stands at 56m.

Infections in Scotland were at 1993 as of midday yesterday, while England now has more than 22,000 cases confirmed.

Professor Mark Woolhouse, chair of infectious disease epidemiology at Edinburgh University’s Deanery of Population Health Sciences, said the current doubling rate is “comparable” to London at the same stage.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Why the EU can't afford to get its strategy wrong

He went on: “All that says that if we hadn’t got any intervention we appear to be following a somewhat similar epidemic curve to London, but we’re just six or seven days behind.

“But when the lockdown was implemented it was implemented not just in London, as we were anticipating, but across the whole country on the same day.

“It’s not that we think the lockdown measures have a dramatically different effect on transmission rates in Scotland than London, although there are some questions about urban versus rural.

"It’s simply those extra six or seven days.

“But if I’m correct, the per capita number of deaths in Scotland until the end of the lockdown ought to be lower.”

However, the expert said he still expects deaths to rise in the coming weeks due to the lag between implementing action and seeing results due to the virus’s long incubation period.

Scotland in lockdown. Shops are closing and newspaper sales are falling fast. It’s no exaggeration to say that the future of The National is at stake. Please consider supporting us through this with a digital subscription from just £2 for 2 months by following this link: Thanks – and stay safe.