Coronavirus in Scotland: Jeane Freeman says hunt is on across country for cases of Brazilian Covid-19 variant

Jeane Freeman has said “much effort” is being made to find cases of the new Brazilian strain of Covid-19 – but she stressed there is currently “no reason to believe” it is in circulation in Scotland.

It comes after three Scottish residents tested positive for the new strain of the virus after flying into Aberdeen from Brazil, via Paris and London.

Speaking at the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefing on Monday, the Health Secretary reported that passengers who were on BA1312 from Heathrow are being traced.

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Ms Freeman said: “If you were on that flight and have not yet been contacted, you will be contacted shortly, so please wait for that.”

She said there is currently no reason to believe the variant is in circulation in Scotland but the Government is doing “everything that’s necessary” to check whether it could have been transmitted in Scotland and to identify and break any chains of transmission.

She added: “We know that current vaccines are effective against the strains of the virus which 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 are highlighting today from Brazil.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith added that action being taken over the variant is “appropriate, but precautionary”, while reiterating that there is no evidence to suggest it is in the community.

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman.

Meanwhile, Scotland has recorded 386 positive coronavirus tests in the past 24 hours, Ms Freeman said.

The Health Secretary said 202,470 people have now tested positive in Scotland, up from 202,084 the previous day.

Of the new cases, 123 are in Greater Glasgow and Clyde, 70 in Lothian and 51 in Lanarkshire.

No new deaths have been recorded, meaning the death toll under this measure remains at 7,131.

There are 824 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, down 13 in 24 hours, and 71 patients are in intensive care, down seven.

The Health Secretary told the Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing an “IT issue” means she could not give an update on vaccination figures from 8.30am on Monday.

She said these will be updated online by Health Protection Scotland at 2pm.

Ms Freeman also marked one year since the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Scotland.

She said: “During the last 12 months our lives have been turned upside down in ways which would have been absolutely unimaginable at the beginning of 2020.

“For thousands of families who have lost loved ones to this virus … the last 12 months have brought grief and heartbreak.

“Many people have been anxious about their own health and that of their loved ones, or they have faced economic hardship due to redundancy or furlough.

“For all of us, forced separation from friends and loved ones has been and is hard to endure.”

She added: “It is impossible to adequately express how grateful I am for everything that people across Scotland have done and endured during the last 12 months, and for the tireless and unrelenting work of our health and social care staff and those who have kept our vital public services running.

“We owe you an enormous debt of gratitude.”

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