THE Scottish Government wants to avoid closing schools in response to increasing coronavirus cases “at all possible costs”, deputy first minister John Swinney has said.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon warned she could not rule out reimposing Covid restrictions as the number of new daily cases in Scotland hit the highest level ever.

Swinney said the return of Scottish schools after the summer break had contributed to the rise in cases.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Swinney said any new restrictions would be “proportionate”.

Asked about schools, he said: “Cases have risen very significantly within Scotland and we are looking closely at why that is the case.

“Undoubtedly the gathering of people together in schools will have fuelled that to some extent. You can see that in the proportion of younger people who are testing positive.”

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Asked if school closures could be among any early restrictions, he said: “We want to avoid that at all possible costs.

“That’s why a few weeks ago we were being criticised for the retention of face coverings within secondary schools, people would tell us we shouldn’t do that.

“But of course the justification for it appears to me to be ever stronger.”

Swinney also said the Government is not currently considering cancelling large events like football matches and gigs.