NHS Lothian has this morning (Thursday) announced it is cancelling all non-urgent procedures in an attempt to free up beds and staff to tackle the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

A statement released this morning said: "NHS Lothian is taking urgent action to ensure that the system is prepared to meet the challenges ahead for patients and staff.

"Non-urgent procedures, such as elective gallbladder and hernia surgery, non-trauma orthopaedic surgery such as hip and knee operations, and elective gynaecological operations have been postponed to ensure beds are available for the sickest of patients.

"Non-urgent outpatient and diagnostic appointments are being scaled back. For patients who are affected, they will be contacted by the relevant department in the coming days.

"The number of Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds will be increased, while extra beds to manage Covid-19 will also be opened up.

"The number of doctors and nurses available is also to be boosted by offering short-term contracts to bank staff, asking recently retired staff to return, and working with senior nursing and medical students."

NHS Lothian stressed that the measures which have been introduced would not impact maternity, emergency or cancer services.

A free helpline has been set up for those who do not have symptoms but are looking for general health advice. This can be accessed by calling 0800 028 2816. The helpline is open Monday to Friday 8am-10pm, Saturday and Sunday 8am-6pm.

Meanwhile, an announcement is expected from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Thursday) with more details regarding school closures, with all schools in Scotland to shut at the end of the week.

Venues around East Lothian continue to close.

All council museums are now closed, as is the National Museum of Flight and all manned Historic Environment Scotland sites, including Dirleton Castle and Tantallon Castle.

The Fraser Centre in Tranent is shut until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak, it was announced today.

In a statement, it said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but we have followed advice from the Government and East Lothian Council and have to prioritise the health of our visitors, staff and volunteers.”

East Lothian Yacht Club, based at North Berwick Harbour, has closed its entire facility until further notice due to the coronavirus outbreak.

It announced the news on social media this morning.

As well as the yacht club, its cafe, bar and changing rooms are also closed. Any racing or social sailing has been cancelled until further notice.

In the statement, the yacht club said: “Please do not use club facilities or club equipment.”

The Herringbone in North Berwick has also closed its doors.

It announced the news on social media, saying: “Due to the ongoing global virus, we have taken the decision to close to protect our team, our customers and our community.

“We appreciate all of the support from the community and hope to see you all soon.”

Sports centres in East Lothian remain open for now, however.

A host of events have also been called off around East Lothian, including the Musselburgh Festival, while the Edinburgh Marathon has been postponed till September and the next four meetings scheduled for Musselburgh Racecourse have been cancelled.

And Tesco has introduced a three-item limit on all items in a bid to halt panic buying.

All Aldi stores across Scotland will close at 8pm Monday to Saturday from tomorrow.

Meanwhile, police officers across East Lothian will not be attending any public meetings, including community council meetings, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A statement issued by Superintendent Angus MacInnes said that police in East Lothian are “committed to policing your area”.

However, due to the latest Scottish Government advice against public gatherings and local community meetings, should any take place the police will not be attending. The reason for this is to “protect the capacity of the police”.

Officers and staff will continue to attend statutory meetings and will return to community meetings when it is deemed appropriate.