NICOLA Sturgeon is to give a Covid update to Holyrood as the number of people in Scotland hospitalised with the disease heads towards new highs.

Scotland had 1805 coronavirus patients in hospital on Monday, higher than at any point since February 5, 2021.

Government data shows that the number seems to be on an upward trajectory, threatening to overtake the record high of 2053 from January 22, 2021.

The National: A Scottish Government graph showing the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 over timeA Scottish Government graph showing the number of people in hospital with Covid-19 over time

The First Minister will address MSPs on the state of the pandemic on Tuesday, with the country planning to drop all remaining Covid restrictions on Monday, March 21.

From next Monday the legal requirement to wear masks in public settings will be lifted, along with the obligation put on businesses to collect customers’ contact details.

However, the Scottish Government has said a requirement to self-isolate after a positive test will remain in place, and Covid testing will remain free, despite moves in England.

The Conservatives have urged the Scottish Government to take the lead from the UK Government and scrap all Covid restrictions “as planned” despite rising infections and hospitalisations.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon announces end to legal requirement to wear face masks

Scottish Tory health spokesperson Dr Sandesh Gulhane said: “The First Minister must not use the rise in infection rates as an excuse.”

Scotland recorded more than 11,000 cases every day from Tuesday to Friday last week, peaking at 14,387 on Thursday.

The figures for the weekend are no longer published, and a technical issue on Monday prevented Public Health Scotland from reporting the most recent three days of data as normal.

The National: Dr Gregor Smith

Professor Sir Gregor Smith (above), Scotland’s chief medical officer, said that the rise in infections meant a “cautious approach" to lifting remaining Covid rules was needed.

However, he said that hospital occupancy began to rise around February 14 and there were “some hopeful signs” the rate of admission “has begun to kind of top out just a little bit over the course of the latter end of last week”.

Smith added: “We’re seeing more older population becoming impacted on this occasion, and that’s leading to some longer lengths of stay, which is driving occupancy up as well.”

When will Nicola Sturgeon give an update?

The First Minister is due to appear before MSPs in Holyrood to update the nation on the Government’s plans for dealing with Covid on Tuesday afternoon.

She is scheduled to speak after Topical Questions and Parliamentary Bureau Motions, meaning she should begin around 2.15pm.

You will be able to watch the update on the Scottish Parliament's website or get the latest breaking news here. 

Is there anything else we need to know?

Deputy First Minister John Swinney has tabled a motion to be debated in Holyrood after Nicola Sturgeon has spoken.

The motion asks MSPs to welcome “that the Scottish Government will aim to convert remaining Covid-19 regulations into guidance to promote good public health behaviours, while retaining the ability to regulate in future should the public health situation require it”.

It says that “the approach is to manage Covid-19 going forwards on the basis of four broad response categories that reflect the assessed threat”.

Outlining those broad categories in February, the First Minister did not rule out the return of restrictions depending on the level of threat.