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Scotland’s First Minister said the 'really concerning development' from the latest variant meant all current restrictions would remain in the country and further measures such as an extension to vaccine passports could not be ruled out.
She told employers that if they had staff working from home at the start of the pandemic, they should enable them to do so again until the middle of January.
Speaking in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Sturgeon said there has been more than a tenfold increase in Omicron cases over the last week.
A total of 28 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 99.
She explained: "A still low – at around four per cent – but steadily rising proportion of cases also now show the S gene drop out that, as I said a moment ago, is indicative of Omicron.
“Our estimate at this stage is that the doubling time for Omicron cases may be as short as two to three days, and that the R number associated with the new variant may be well over 2.”
3,724,671 people in Scotland have been tested for #coronavirus— Scottish Government (@scotgov) December 7, 2021
The total confirmed as positive has risen by 3,060* to 746,549
Sadly 12 more people who tested positive have died (9,661 in total)
Latest update ➡️https://t.co/bZPbrCoQux
Health advice ➡️https://t.co/l7rqArB6Qu pic.twitter.com/43sT65ltzP
She added that she 'would expect to see a continued and potentially rapid rise in cases in the days ahead and for Omicron to account for a rising share of overall cases'.
The First Minister said a variant that is 'more transmissible than Delta, and which has even a limited ability to evade natural or vaccine immunity, has the potential to put very intense additional pressure on the health service'.
“The sheer weight of numbers of people who could be infected as a result of increased transmissibility and some immunity evasion will create this pressure even if the disease the new variant causes in individuals is no more severe than Delta,” she said.
She also urged Scots to follow rules around testing and self-isolation should they have symptoms, as well as regular lateral flow testing.
“I am not excluding myself from this,” she went on, adding: "I am currently doing a test every morning before coming to work and I will do a test on any occasion I mix with others over the festive period.
"I will ask anyone visiting my home over Christmas to do likewise.”
Featured Image Credit: Alamy
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