Scroll down to see the latest news on the pandemic on Tuesday, June 15.
Covid Scotland RECAP: The latest updates on the pandemic on Tuesday, June 15
- Nicola Sturgeon is updating MSPs on Covid-19 in Scotland
- Delta variant is associated with higher hospital risk, Sturgeon says
- Boris Johnson announces delay in lifting lockdown measures in England
Revealed: The data likely to decide the next step of Scotland’s lockdown easing
Here is an overview of the latest coronavirus data likely to be used by the Scottish Government to inform its decision about easing restrictions.
– Infection levels
The proportion of people testing positive for coronavirus in Scotland has increased slightly in recent weeks.
Around one in 540 people in private households in Scotland had Covid-19 in the week to June 5 – up from one in 680 in the previous week, according to estimates published on Friday by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
It is the highest level since the week to April 10.
These figures are still very low compared with the peak of the second wave in January; the latest estimate of one in 540 people is the equivalent of 0.2% of the population, or 9,700 people: well below the 1.1%, or 55,700 people, estimated at the start of the year.
The ONS also describes the trend in Scotland as “uncertain”, and there is not yet enough evidence to describe the recent rise as part of a steady, long-term increase in infections.
– Case rates
A total of 6,211 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Scotland in the seven days to June 10, according to Public Health Scotland.
This is the equivalent of 113.7 cases per 100,000 people – up from 88.4 one week earlier and the highest since February 7.
Scotland also has the highest rate among the four nations of the UK.
Of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland, Dundee currently has the highest rate: 288.6, up week-on-week from 162.7
South Ayrshire has the second highest rate (227.3, up from 172.3), followed by Clackmannanshire (209.5, up from 151.3).
In all, 17 of the 32 local areas are now recording rates above 100 cases per 100,000 people.
And 23 of the 32 are currently recording a week-on-week increase.
– Hospital cases
The number of Covid-19 hospital admissions and patients is increasing.
Some 158 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in Scotland in the week ending June 8 – up from 137 in the previous week, and the highest since the week ending March 30.
A total of 128 people with recently confirmed Covid-19 were reported to be in hospital on June 14, up from 122 a week earlier.
The seven-day average for the number of patients in hospital currently stands at 127.
This is the highest since April 16.
Hospital activity remains well below the level seen at the height of the second wave, however.
Admissions peaked at 1,391 in the week ending January 12, while the number of patients peaked at 2,053 on January 22.
The Delta variant of Covid-19, which originated in India, is now the dominant form of coronavirus in Scotland, according to new findings from the University of Edinburgh’s Usher Institute.
Researchers analysed data from 5.4 million people for the period April 1 to June 6 and recorded 19,543 community cases and 377 admissions to hospital where a specific variant of Covid-19 was confirmed.
Of these totals, 7,723 cases and 134 hospital admissions were found to have the Delta variant, which is believed to be about 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant that was first identified in Kent in England at the end of last year.
While vaccines were found to reduce the risk of being admitted to hospital, strong protective effects against the Delta variant were not seen until at least 28 days after the first vaccine dose.
In community cases at least two weeks after the second dose, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine was found to provide 79% protection against infection from the Delta variant, compared with 92% against the Alpha variant.
The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine offered 60% protection against infection with the Delta variant, compared with 73% for the Alpha variant.
Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the Usher Institute and EAVE II study lead, said the Delta variant is “unfortunately associated with increased risk of hospitalisation from Covid-19.”
“Whilst possibly not as effective as against other variants, two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines still offer substantial protection against the risk of infection and hospitalisation.
“It is therefore really important that, when offered second doses, people take these up, both to protect themselves, and to reduce household and community transmission.”
Some 3.5 million first doses of Covid-19 vaccine have now been delivered in Scotland – the equivalent of 79.3% of the adult population.
A further 2.4 million second doses have also been given, meaning 55.2% of people aged 18 and over are likely to be fully vaccinated.
Vaccine take-up varies among different age groups, however.
The latest available breakdown from Public Health Scotland, showing vaccinations up to June 13, shows 94.6% of people aged 80 and over have had both doses of vaccine – suggesting 5.4%, or around one in 20, are not yet fully vaccinated.
Some 98.6% of 75 to 79-year-olds are estimated to be fully vaccinated, along with 99.6% of people aged 70 to 74, 96.9% of people aged 65 to 69 and 95.9% of those aged 60 to 64.
But so far only 83.1% of 55 to 59-year-olds have had both doses, as well as 66.2% of 50 to 54-year-olds.
All people in Scotland over the age of 40 are now being urged to have their second Covid-19 jab as soon as possible, with the Scottish Government saying anyone in that age group who has a scheduled appointment more than eight weeks after their first dose should seek an earlier slot.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to announce on Tuesday whether the latest easing of coronavirus restrictions in Scotland will go ahead on June 28.
The Scottish Government had indicated it hoped to move all areas to the lowest level of restrictions – level zero – from this date.
But a rise in case rates and hospital numbers, driven by the spread of the Delta variant of coronavirus that originated in India, may mean this is delayed.
Shetland, Orkney, the Western Isles and some of the smaller islands have been in level zero since June 5.
The rest of Scotland is currently in either level one or two.
In level zero, up to eight people from four households can meet indoors, while up to 10 people from four households can meet in an indoor public place like a cafe or restaurant.
Up to 200 people can also attend weddings and funerals.
Covid vaccines ‘highly effective’ against hospital admission with Delta variant
Covid-19 vaccines are “highly effective” in preventing hospital admission with the Delta variant of coronavirus, according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).
Both the Pfizer/BioNTech and Oxford/AstraZeneca jabs are just as good at coping with the Delta variant first identified in India as the Alpha variant first identified in Kent, the data suggests.
PHE’s study of hospital admissions found:
– The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is 94% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 96% after two doses.
– The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is 71% effective against hospital admission after just one dose, rising to 92% after two doses.
– Protection against death is also expected to be high, but further work is under way to confirm this.
– Unvaccinated people have twice the risk of hospital admission with the Delta variant as the Alpha variant.
– Among those who are vaccinated, 12 people in every 100 may end up in hospital with Delta compared with eight for Alpha.
PM’s ‘negligence’ and ‘lax’ borders to blame for lockdown lifting delay – Labour
The “negligence and incompetence” of Boris Johnson and the country’s “lax” border measures have led to the need to delay the lifting of England’s coronavirus restrictions, according to the shadow home secretary.
Nick Thomas-Symonds will dub the the Delta variant of coronavirus “the Johnson variant” in a speech on Tuesday about UK Covid borders policy.
He will argue that the Prime Minister’s “refusal to take tough decisions” has left Britain facing more weeks of restrictions.
In the speech, Mr Thomas-Symonds will emphasise that Britain’s status as an island country means that, like New Zealand and Australia, “our border protections should have been one of our natural strengths throughout this pandemic”.
He will cite figures showing that 20,000 passengers who could have been infected with the Delta variant arrived from India between April 2 and April 23.
Labour will force another vote in the House of Commons on the issue, and as part of the vote the party is calling for the amber travel list to be scrapped.
The number of UK workers on payrolls rose by 197,000 between April and May but has fallen by 553,000 since the pandemic struck, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
Slight increase in Scotland’s unemployment rate
Scotland’s unemployment rate increased slightly in the last quarter, according to the latest figures.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the unemployment rate between February and April for those aged 16 and over was 4.2%, a 0.1% increase on the previous quarter.
This was below the UK-wide rate of 4.7% for over-16s.
The employment rate for those aged 16 to 64 in Scotland was 74.2%, a 0.1% drop on the previous quarter.
There were 2,657 million people aged 16 and over in employment between February and April this year, while 117,000 in that age range were unemployed.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said that something “unprecedented and remarkable” would have to happen for the July 19 date to be extended further in England.
Michael Gove said ministers cannot make decisions with “perfect knowledge” when asked whether he wished more had been done in Government to stop the spread of the Delta variant at the border.
The First Minister is due to give a briefing with the latest coronavirus update on Tuesday afternoon.