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Omicron variant: Nine cases in Scotland linked to single event as Nicola Sturgeon announces more testing

All nine cases of the Omicron variant so far identified in Scotland have been linked to a single private event, our sister title The Scotsman reports.

None of the cases had any connection with travel to South Africa, the First Minister of Scotland announced on Tuesday (30 November), suggesting community transmission.

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In an update to MSPs, Ms Sturgeon announced Scotland’s testing regime will be increased, with lateral flow tests to be made available for free at shopping centres, supermarkets, sports grounds and Christmas markets.

Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the main chamber to deliver a Covid-19 update statement on the Omicron variant in the Scottish Parliament (Photo: PA)

What did Nicola Sturgeon say?

The First Minister did not announce any further Covid-19 related restrictions for Scotland, but urged members of the public to comply with those already in place.

"Thanks to the work of the global scientific community, we will find out much more about Omicron in the days and weeks ahead - and as our knowledge and understanding expands, we will be able to assess with more certainty the implications for our response to the pandemic,” she said.

"I hope that as we learn more, our level of concern will diminish rather than increase. However, while hoping very much for the best, it is prudent at this stage to contemplate and prepare for something less positive than that.

"The fact is that any variant which might be more transmissible than Delta - and which could, even to a limited extent, evade vaccine or natural immunity - must be taken seriously.

"That is why we have - and will continue for now - to respond in a way that is proportionate but also highly precautionary.”

Where are the cases in Scotland?

More cases of the new variant are expected in connection with the same private event, Ms Sturgeon said.

The individuals who have been identified – five in Lanarkshire, and four in Greater Glasgow and Clyde – have been self-isolating since they tested positive on or around November 23.

None of them is currently in hospital.

Public Health Scotland is still examining any potential link between the Omicron variant in Scotland and COP26, but Ms Sturgeon said no connection has so far been found.

The First Minister encouraged members of the public to take regular Covid tests and comply with current protection measures.

“While certainty is not possible until we know more, my hope is that – beyond temporary travel measures

– no additional restrictions will be required,” she said.

"However, that will depend partly on what information emerges about Omicron in the days to come, but also and significantly on all of us complying rigorously with all the protections currently in place to stem transmission.

"It remains the case that our first and most important defence against the virus is vaccination.”

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