Nicola Sturgeon to give Covid statement as cases reach record levels

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  • Nicola Sturgeon
    Nicola Sturgeon
    5th First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party

The First Minister of Scotland is due to give an update on Covid restrictions as case numbers reach record highs.

The festive period has seen daily cases climb to more than 8,000, with the most recorded since the start of the pandemic on Boxing Day – 11,030.

In response to the surge in cases, the Scottish Government introduced new measures on December 26 which included one-metre physical distancing at large events, with limits of 100 people standing indoors, 200 people sitting indoors and 500 people outdoors.

New rules on social gatherings then came in on Monday, with meetings limited to three households at indoor and outdoor venues like bars, restaurants, theatres, cinemas and gyms.

Table service was also made a requirement at places where alcohol is served.

Covid Scotland
Table service is now required in venues in Scotland where alcohol is served (Jane Barlow/PA)

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to give an update on restrictions and Covid statistics in Scotland between 2pm and 2.30pm in Parliament on Wednesday.

It remains unclear whether she will introduce further restrictions.

Scotland’s new rules mean Hogmanay events will be cancelled, while the Scottish Premiership winter break has been brought forward to avoid staging football matches within the new limits on crowds.

Wales and Northern Ireland were also quick to introduce new measures immediately after Christmas Day, curtailing many people’s new year plans.

Their new restrictions include required table service where alcohol is served and limited table numbers inside venues such as pubs to a maximum of six people.

Nightclubs are also closed in Wales, and will be closed in Northern Ireland on New Year’s Eve.

UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid confirmed England has not followed the other nations in bringing in restrictions before the end of the year.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon repeated her call for people to “get boosted by the bells”.

She said: “The significantly increased transmissibility of Omicron is reflected in the steep increase in cases now materialising, and we would expect to see case numbers rise further in the days to come.”

She urged people to comply with the latest guidance over the new year period, adding: “We must not underestimate the impact of Omicron.”

Covid statistics normally published by the Scottish Government every day have been paused over Christmas, but Ms Sturgeon is due to give a full update on the figures when she addresses MSPs on Wednesday.

The provisional updates on daily case numbers over the festive period are as follows:
December 25: 8,252 cases
December 26: 11,030 cases
December 27: 10,562 cases
December 28: 9,360 cases

While the data covers tests reported in the preceding 24-hour period, a lag in reporting means that the majority of these cases will relate to tests done before the Christmas break.

Earlier this week, members of the public reported waiting up to four days for a PCR test result in Scotland, which should normally take 24 hours.

National clinical director of Scotland Professor Jason Leitch said after speaking to test and protect staff on Monday, the backlog was cleared and the wait for test results should have resumed to normal – between 24 and 36 hours.

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