Highlands and Islands MSP Donald Cameron is calling for £780m being made available to Scotland from the UK Government to be dedicated to dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Cameron, the Scottish Conservative shadow finance secretary, has also called for urgent help to be given to the tourism and retail sectors in particular as they are currently bearing the brunt of the behavioural effects of the virus.

The £780m is due to Scotland via Barnett consequentials resulting from Coronavirus budget measures and the Coronavirus Response Fund announced last week by the UK government.

In response, the Scottish Conservatives are asking the Scottish government to ring-fence the entire £780 million for COVID-19 measures and to follow the UK’s lead and establish a Response Fund to support the NHS and other public services with the financial resources it needs as the virus continues to spread.

Mr Cameron said: “We are in no doubt of the significant impact of COVID-19 on our society, economy and our public services.

“This substantial £780m funding package from the UK government will help Scotland prepare for, and mitigate, the effects of this global pandemic.

“Given the extreme and widespread impact of this health crisis, the entire £780m must be ring-fenced for COVID-19 by the Scottish government.

“In addition, the Scottish government should follow the UK government’s lead and establish a Response Fund for the NHS and other public services to alleviate any funding concerns

“Here in the Highlands and Islands we are particularly concerned about the impact on the tourism sector, especially accommodation providers, and businesses reliant on visitors to the region. They will need our support to get through this very difficult time.

“Everyone agrees this is going to be a challenging period  for our economy – we can, and must, focus financial support where it is needed most.”