A full breakdown of figures of positive cases over Christmas issued by the Scottish Government showed that the number has risen since the daily statistics were last issued before Christmas, to 10,562 today – but warned that the actual number could be far higher.
On Christmas Day, the number of positive tests stood at 8,252, with a high of 11,030 on Boxing Day – the highest daily totals recorded in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.
However, the government said that with the longer turnaround time for test results due to demand on the service, the actual number of positive Covid cases may be higher.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that the number of cases could have been even higher if the public had not complied with advice such as limiting social interactions and cancelling Christmas parties.
She said: “While these figures are provisional, the steep increase in cases we have been expecting is now materialising, and this reflects the significantly increased transmissibility of Omicron. We would expect to see case numbers rise further in the days ahead - though it is worth bearing in mind that they are likely to have been even higher but for the compliance of the public with the guidance issued in the run up to Christmas.
“These figures underline how important it is that we don’t underestimate the impact of Omicron - even if the rate of hospitalisation associated with it is much lower than past strains of the virus, case numbers this high will still put an inevitable further strain on NHS. This level of infection will also cause a significant and severely disruptive level of sickness absence across the economy and critical services."
She said: “So even though we are all thoroughly fed up with the impact of Covid on our lives, it is really important that over the new year period we follow guidance to help slow the spread of the virus while we complete the accelerated booster programmes.
“In addition to observing good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings, I am asking everyone to limit contacts as much as possible, to keep any essential indoor gatherings to a maximum of three households, and to get boosted by the bells.
“I know sticking to all of these measures is really hard – especially at this time of year - but there’s no doubt whatsoever it will help keep us safer.”
Restrictions on large events were re-imposed from 5am on Boxing Day. Only 100 are allowed to attend a standing indoor event and 200 at a seated event, while outdoor events have been limited to 500, meaning large-scale Hogmanay celebrations have been scrapped. Indoor non-professional contact sports have also been stopped.
Indoor hospitality and leisure settings will also have to return to one-metre social distancing and table service where appropriate under the new measures from today, while nightclubs have been told they have to close for three weeks.
Elsewhere in the UK, Wales and Northern Ireland have also introduced new restrictions. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has yet to announce any further rules for England but indicated he will not hesitate to act if required.