Contact tracing under way but 'no reason to believe' Brazil variant has spread
The health secretary has said there is "currently no reason to believe" the Brazilian variant of COVID-19 is "in circulation" in Scotland.
Contact tracing is under way after three cases of the variant of concern, associated with Manaus in Brazil, were identified in the north east.
The individuals tested positive for the strain after travelling from Brazil to Aberdeen, via Paris and London. They self isolated upon arrival in Scotland and stayed in isolation for a further 10 days after receiving their test results.
Freeman confirmed at the lunchtime briefing that there was no evidence of community spread of the strain also known as the P1 variant.
She said: "We know that current vaccines are effective against the strains of the virus that have already been established in the UK, however more work is required to determine that this remains the case for emerging strains of the virus, such as the one we're highlighting today from Brazil.
“That's why so much effort is going into stopping it spreading further while the work is under way with respect to the vaccine.
"The three individuals concerned had travelled from Brazil to Scotland via Paris and London. They self isolated on their arrival in Scotland and when they tested positive for COVID, they all stayed in isolation for a further 10 days.
"Because they had arrived from Brazil, a designated high-risk country, their test results were selected for genomic sequencing. That is why we now have been able to confirm that they had the P1 variant.
"As a precautionary measure, Test and Protect teams are now identifying all possible contacts of these cases and the contacts of those contacts so that they can take tests.
"We're also contacting other passengers who were on the flight the individuals took from Heathrow to Aberdeen. That is flight BA1312 which departed from Heathrow on the afternoon of Friday, 29 January.
"I want to stress that there is currently no reason to believe that the P1 variant of the virus is in circulation in Scotland.
"However, I hope this summary reassures you that we are doing everything we can and everything that is necessary to check whether this variant of the virus could have been transmitted within Scotland and to identify and break and possible chains of transmission."