Covid Scotland: Daily cases could reach 60,000 in April

The number of people being infected with Covid every day in Scotland could reach 60,000 by the middle of April, according to the latest official modelling.

A Scottish Government paper said that this could translate into 6,000 people requiring hospital treatment.

The predictions are contained in the latest Modelling the Epidemic paper which is intended to help ministers and public health officials plan their response.

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Covid cases in Scotland have surged in the past few weeks, driven by the highly infectious BA.2 sub-variant of the Omicron strain, which now accounts for around 90 per cent of cases.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will make an announcement on the wearing of face masks next week

The number of people in hospital with the virus has hit a record high for five days in a row, with 2,326 requiring treatment on wards according to daily figures.

The volume of people testing positive has taken heavy toll on the NHS, with record numbers of people facing long waits at A&E and some health boards cancelling elective operations.

In the week up to March 22 an average of 6,000 NHS staff – about 3.4 per cent of the total workforce – were also absent each day for Covid-related reasons.

The paper says that the future trajectory of Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths remains “uncertain”.

It estimates that daily infections may be as high as 60,000 in April, when current numbers of positive tests are adjusted to account for asymptomatic and undetected infections.

It says this will lead to an increase in hospitalisations, with more than 6,000 patients needing beds under the worst case scenario, which could occur if rates of transmission increase.

Under the “central” scenario, which could occur if rates of transmission stay the same as now, it estimates that daily infections could still reach 40,000 with 4,000 people hospitalised.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has warned that the number of patients being treated for Covid in Scotland’s hospitals could keep rising for weeks.

Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet is due to meet on Tuesday to decide whether to lift the rule on face masks, which currently have to be worn in public spaces such as shops.

The law is expected to be converted into guidance from April 4, but the plan may be delayed again given the modelling and current level of daily cases.

As pressure continues to mount on the health services, NHS Lanarkshire urged people not to attend A&E at its three acute hospitals – Monklands in Airdrie, Hairmyres in East Kilbride, and University Hospital Wishaw – unless they were facing a ‘life-threatening’ situation.

The Scottish Government paper says that the future trajectory of Covid infections, hospitalisations and deaths remains “uncertain”.

However, it estimates that daily infections may be as high as 60,000 in April, when current numbers of positive tests are adjusted to account for asymptomatic and undetected infections.

It says this will lead to an increase in hospitalisations, with more than 6,000 patients needing beds under the worst case scenario, which could occur if rates of transmission increase.

Under the “central” scenario, which could occur if rates of transmission stay the same as now, it estimates that daily infections could still reach 40,000 with 4,000 people hospitalised.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said it was “drawing upon the best available evidence to develop planning scenarios against which to assess our collective preparedness”.

She added: “We publish regular updates on modelling of the spread and level of Covid-19 for wider public information.

“The future trajectory of Covid-19 infections is, as it always has been, uncertain. To reflect this uncertainty we provide a range of possibilities covering better, central and worst case.

“The Scottish Government uses an array of other data sources to inform our decisions including the consensus position of UK Health Security Agency, and Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling.”

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