More than 21,000 Scots signed up to a volunteering campaign launched in the wake of the coronavirus crisis in just four hours, the First Minister has announced.

The new Scotland Cares initiative went live on Monday morning.

Nicola Sturgeon said the total of those registering interest includes about 6,000 retired medical professionals and students.

The First Minister said: “I want to thank each and every person who has registered an interest in the Scotland Cares campaign – the offer of support at this critical time is invaluable.

“As well as enabling medical students and former health staff to help the NHS, it also encourages people to help their communities across Scotland.

“The response we have had to this call for applications is indicative, I think, of a wider point – many people across Scotland are responding to this difficult period by showing a sense of community and solidarity.”

Scotland Cares has been set up to recruit volunteers to help combat the Covid-19 outbreak through a programme co-ordinated by the British Red Cross.

Volunteers will only be asked to carry out tasks that involve leaving their home once a day.

Only those who are not isolating or in health risk categories can take part.

The Scottish Government is also aiming to recruit returning NHS workers for existing voluntary roles in the health service and volunteers for other charities or community groups.

More than 8,000 people have offered to support local public services through the Red Cross and another 11,000 through working with existing charities and groups via Volunteer Scotland.

Social Security and Older People Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The response to the Scotland Cares campaign, which has recorded over 21,000 new volunteers in just one day, has been tremendous.

“This is in addition to the thousands of student and retired health and social care workers who have expressed an interest in or applied for posts to help support the NHS during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Thank you to everyone who has already registered to volunteer or who have signed up to support our NHS. Your support at this critical time is invaluable.”

Volunteers who want to support their communities should visit