Covid in Scotland: Six cases of Omicron variant identified

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Covid in Scotland: Six cases of Omicron variant identified
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Six cases of the new Covid Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland.

Some of the people identified have no travel history and have caught the virus variant in the community.

The Scottish government said four cases have been found in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Contact tracing is taking place to establish the origin of the virus and find anyone else they have come into contact with in recent weeks.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said it was a "worrying time" for the six people with the new variant.

Omicron was first reported in South Africa, but cases have been detected in countries across the world, including Australia, Germany, Israel and Hong Kong.

Ten countries in southern Africa have been added to the travel "red list" in response, while it is expected that all overseas travellers arriving into the UK from 04:00 on Tuesday will need to take a PCR test.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney toldUSAGovNews's : "On some of the cases we are aware that there is no travel history involved.

"So what that tells us is that there must be a degree of community transmission of this particular strain of the virus."

This "opens up further challenges" for interrupting the spread of the virus, he said.

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If the variant proves to be "more transmissible than previous incarnations", Mr Swinney said the Scottish government may have to take measures to increase physical distancing.

But the minister said it was too early to say whether Christmas plans would have to be reconsidered.

"We are in a much stronger position because of the vaccination that we have within our society," he added.

"Members of the public have taken part tremendously in the vaccination programme, so we do have very high levels of protection within the population.

"It's what we need to do beyond that is relevant for the next period ahead."

How variants happen

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Gregor Smith, Scotland's chief medical officer, will give an update on the situation in a briefing at 10:30.

Mr Yousaf urged people to get their next dose of the Covid-19 vaccine and reiterated the government advice to prevent the spread of the coronavirus:

"All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases," he said.

"This will help establish the origin of the virus and any further individuals they have come into contact with in recent weeks."

The new travel restrictions were announced on Saturday as the World Health Organization designated Omicron a "variant of concern."

The UK government has tightened the rules on the wearing of face coverings in England, bringing them closer into line with those in Scotland - where there is also some use of vaccine passports for large events, and more stringent advice on home working.

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