Omicron tsunami is ‘starting to hit’ warns First Minister
Omicron has now replaced Delta as the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland, with 51.4 per cent of new positive cases suspected to be the new variant.
Nicola Sturgeon said the “tsunami” of Omicron she had warned about last week was “now starting to hit us”.
Reiterating the government’s current advice to limit social contacts, she said rising case numbers were of “profound concern”.
The First Minister added that while regular testing and limiting contacts to three households at a time, this was a “safety net” and she urged people to “prioritise the events and the occasions that matter most to you”.
She said: “My fundamental ask of everyone right now is this: in the runup to Christmas, stay at home much more than you normally would and stay at home as much as you can.”
People are also being asked to limit contacts in the period immediately after Christmas to limit a spike in January.
Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith highlighted that even being in the vicinity of someone with Omicron hugely increases the chances of contracting Covid, much more than previous variants.
In the last day, 4,336 positive cases have been reported – but that number is lower than expected due to a delay in test turnaround time.
There have been 696 confirmed cases of Omicron in Scotland, but this is likely to be a huge underestimate as confirmed cases require genomic sequencing.
An indicator of Omicron, which can be found through a simpler analysis of PCR results, is the S-gene dropout. It is using this measure that it is believed more than half of new cases are Omicron.
Anyone who tests positive for coronavirus and their household will need to self-isolate for 10 days. That means anyone testing positive now will be required to isolate over Christmas.
The First Minister is to speak to the Prime Minister later today to further consider the situation and what more can be done to support businesses who are losing out because of the new advice.
The Scottish Government has recently announced £100m to support businesses, of which £66m will be for hospitality, £20m for culture, £8 for the food and drink sector, £3m for the wedding sector and £3m for tourism.
Sturgeon yesterday wrote to No. 10 calling for the re-establishment of the furlough scheme, warning further restrictions may now be “unavoidable”.