Dr Gregor Smith said that while the numbers of those with coronavirus were going “in the right direction”, any easing of restrictions would be done cautiously because of the risk of “sizeable transmission” of the new variant of the virus.
At the government’s daily Covid briefing he said people should “take encouragement” from the R number [the transmission rate] “being closer to one than we've seen for a long time" as well as “the potential for negative growth in terms of cases across the country”.
However, Dr Smith stressed fresh outbreaks could happen quickly because the new variant was far more easily transmitted.
“When you look at the proportion of cases attributable to the new variant, it’s roughly two thirds of all cases in Scotland now and that means the majority of cases we’re seeing is this new, more transmissible variant,” he said.
"So we have to be very cautious in the way we open up the country again because it would take very much less as we do that for a sizeable transmission to take effect.”
It was claimed two days ago by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that early scientific evidence had suggested the new variant of coronavirus that has emerged in the UK may be more deadly as well as more easily transmissible.
Scotland's latest statistics show that hospital admissions in Scotland may be starting to decline as a result of lockdown. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced 752 new cases and four new deaths of coronavirus patients in the past 24 hours.
The daily test positivity rate is 8.6 per cent, up from 7.4 per cent on Sunday, when 1,195 new cases were recorded.
There are 2,016 people in hospital confirmed to have Covid-19, up six in 24 hours. Of these patients, 151 are in intensive care, a fall of six in the same period.
It was also revealed 415,402 people had received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by 8:30am on Monday, an increase of 11,364 from the previous day.