LiveNicola Sturgeon update RECAP: First Minister tells MSPs rising number of cases are Omicron variant

Nicola Sturgeon has updated the Scottish Parliament on the latest Covid restrictions amid the new Omicron variant.

There are concerns around the rise in the number of cases of the new variant.

Today, Scotland's national clinical director warned more schools and businesses could close in the lead up to Christmas as health experts "hit Omicron hard"

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Nicola Sturgeon is to give a Covid update on the Omicron cases

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First Minister to brief Scottish Parliament on Omicron variant

Last updated: Tuesday, 07 December, 2021, 15:21

Nicola Sturgeon has urged employers in Scotland to let staff work from home until mid-January. She says “If you had staff working from home at this start of the pandemic, please now enable them to do so again.”

Nicola Sturgeon says that the first principle of the Scottish Government will be to do what keeps the country safe, even if that is against what is deemed popular.

She says if the government wait too long to solve the problem it may be too late.

She adds that she knows it is ever-more important to minimise restrictions.

She said: “For the Scottish Government, our first principle will be to seek to do what is necessary to keep the country as safe as possible, even if that is at the expense of being popular,” she said.

“And, second, we will strive to get the right balance between acting proportionately and acting preventatively.

“We know from experience that with an infectious virus acting quickly can be vital – if we wait too long for data to confirm we have a problem, it might already be too late to prevent the problem.

“In fact, acting preventatively is often the best way of ensuring that action can remain limited and proportionate.”

The First Minister says that the doubling time for Omicron cases may be 2-3 days and the R number associated with the new variant may be above 2.

She adds “community transmission is becoming more widespread, and possibly more sustained, across the country”

“The emergence of the Omicron variant is now an additional and indeed a very significant cause for concern.” says Nicola Sturgeon as she confirms no “immediate changes” to Scotland’s Covid rules, the First Minister tells MSPs

Nicola Sturgeon confirms that there are no immediate changes to current restrictions but no preventions will be lifted at this time amid the rapidly developing Omicron situation.

Additional protections will be placed under daily review she confirms.

Away from the briefing, which is expected shortly, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Boris Johnson should be honest about the Downing Street Christmas party because people are “very upset by this”.

He told the BBC there should be “no more of these games about ‘we were following the rules’, all these words that don’t mean anything”.

“Be honest, own up,” he said.

“Very many people are very, very upset by this because while all the rest of the country was in lockdown not seeing loved ones, the people who lost people in that period now know that there was a knees-up and a booze-up in Downing Street, and even now the Prime Minister can’t just be honest.

“So I say to him: Be honest, own up. We don’t need a criminal investigation, we need a prime minister who is honest about it.”

If you are just joining us, welcome.

Nicola Sturgeon is set to give her weekly statement to MSPs on the situation at about 14:20.

The first minister is expected to give further details on the new Omicron variant and how it is affecting the country.

Scotland has recorded 28 new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 99.

The figures published by the Scottish Government show there were 12 coronavirus deaths and 3,060 cases recorded in the past 24 hours.

The latest stats

There have been 12 deaths in 24 hours in Scotland with 3,060 new cases of COVID-19 reported.

Scotland has recorded 28 new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 99.

The number of cases is thought to be higher however due to a backlog of tests from UK Government.

4,355,063 people have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccination, 3,962,203 have received their second dose, and 1,922,604 have received a third dose or booster.

The Covid-19 death toll in Scotland under the daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – now stands at 9,661.

The daily test positivity rate was 9.2%, down from 12.8% the previous day.

There were 576 people in hospital on Monday with recently confirmed Covid-19, down 15 on the day before, with 38 in intensive care, down five.

Earlier today, Scotland’s national clinical director said locations are likely to be closed due to the Omicron variant before Christmas,

Professor Jason Leitch made the claim after staffing worries caused the closure of Todholm Primary School in Paisley for week on Monday due to a number of workers being forced to isolate.

Prof Leitch said on Tuesday there would likely be more closures, but they would not necessarily be restricted to educational settings.

“I’m expecting there to potentially be other location closures before Christmas,” he told BBC Radio Scotland.

What do we know about Omicron?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said preliminary evidence suggests those who have already had Covid-19 are at increased risk of being infected with Omicron, compared with other variants.

However, the WHO has stressed that more information is needed in the coming weeks to verify this.

The latest variant involves mutations on the spike protein of the virus, which is the part targeted by most vaccines.

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), scientists differentiate Omicron from other variants by identifying patterns among three genes in positive results – the S gene, the ORF1ab gene and the N gene.

Delta variant infections usually test positive for all three genes, whereas the Omicron variant is known to test negative for the S gene.

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