Scotland’s chief medical officer will be writing to people most at risk from coronavirus with “bespoke” guidance to protect themselves from infection.

The Deputy First Minister announced new support about self-isolation for the estimated 200,000 most-at-risk Scots, including cancer patients.

Guidance on self-isolating will be issued by chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood, with tailored advice about avoiding infection and support for loneliness and any disruption of health and social care.

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People identified as being most vulnerable from the Covid-19 illness include many cancer patients, organ transplant recipients, patients having immunosuppression treatment and those with respiratory conditions such as severe asthma or cystic fibrosis.

Other categories of risk – as agreed by the UK’s chief medical officers – are pregnant women with congenital heart disease and those with diseases that significantly increase the risk of infections.

The support will be made available through GPs and local resilience partnerships, and will include help with medical conditions, and access to medicine, health services, food and supplies.

Mr Swinney said: “Responding to the coronavirus pandemic is the biggest challenge of our lifetimes, and we must do all we can to slow it down and save lives.

“That’s why we are asking people at the highest clinical risk to self-isolate for a long period, and our local services must prioritise them.

“This will help protect them, minimise the loss of life from Covid-19, and reduce the burden on the NHS in responding to patients who are likely to become severely unwell.

Glasgow Times: John SwinneyJohn Swinney

“I have every confidence in the capability of Scotland’s resilience community to effectively lead what will be the biggest response effort ever undertaken in peacetime.

“We know that it won’t be easy, but by working together everyone can play their part in keeping people safe.”

Mr Swinney also ordered that humanitarian assistance centres be set up by local resilience partnerships – the emergency response groups set up across Scotland – to help with the crisis.

The military is now supporting the emergency coronavirus response alongside local resilience partnerships, according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

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An MoD spokesman said: “Our liaison officers at joint military command Scotland in Stirling are in close contact with both the Scottish Government’s Emergency Co-ordination Centre and we are also providing planning support to Scotland’s regional and local resilience partnerships.”

He added: “Although our military planners and logisticians work closely with Scottish Government staff all year round, at this time of heightened need we are redoubling our efforts to ensure that the Scottish authorities can be fully supported by the MoD in their battle against Coronavirus, if they require us to do so.”