There are more Covid-19 patients in Ayrshire hospitals than at any point in the last 14 months, according to the latest Scottish Government data.

Their figures show that there were 213 people being treated for a Covid-related illness at a hospital in the Ayrshire and Arran health board area yesterday.

That’s an increase of 60 patients from the same day the week before.

The number of patients with Covid-19 in intensive care in Ayrshire hospitals however, remains below five.

The dramatic increase has placed extreme pressure on the health board, which is planning on drafting in admin staff from HR and Finance departments to help out on wards to deal with the rising numbers of both patients and staff having to isolate.

With regard to virus prevalence in the area, the number of positive tests being returned in North Ayrshire is decreasing, with1,651 between March 26 - April 1, down from 2,258 the previous week.

And although nationwide the picture is looking similarly, the Scottish Government have decided to extend the legislation requiring facemasks to be worn in some indoor settings.

The last remaining Covid laws were due to be repealed yesterday, but speaking at a Holyrood briefing last week, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that scrapping facemasks in shops hospitality venues, and on public transport would be delayed by a further two weeks, until April 18. But the legal requirement for facemasks in places of worship and at marriage ceremonies, civil partnerships and funerals ended yesterday.