Covid hospitalisations are at their highest level in Ayrshire for over a year.

There are currently more than 160 Covid patients in Ayrshire hospitals. However, the number of those who go on to intensive care is fewer than in previous waves.

Statistics from the Scottish Government show that there were 168 Covid patients in hospital yesterday in the Ayrshire and Arran health board area, the highest daily total since February 11, 2021. But there remain fewer than five people in intensive care.

It comes as case numbers continue their steep rise, with the number of weekly confirmed cases going up from 1,406 between March 2-8 to 2,876 between March 12-18.

It gives us a seven-day rate per 100,000 of population of 2,142.3. North Ayrshire is the third worst-affected council area by this measure.

According to the National Records of Scotland there were four people from Ayrshire who died where Covid-19 was mentioned on their death certificate, none of them were from North Ayrshire.

Last week First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the legal requirement to wear face masks in shops and on public transport would remain for at least two more weeks after plans for removing it from yesterday were scrapped.

She did confirm that all other legal restrictions would be removed as planned. The requirement on businesses and service providers to retain customer contact details has ended; and so too has the requirement for businesses, places of worship and service providers to have regard to Scottish government guidance on Covid, and to take reasonably practicable measures set out in the guidance.