Scotland has recorded its highest ever number of Covid cases since the start of the pandemic.
The First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the rise in cases was a cause for concern but added that early data suggests they may soon begin to fall.
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At a glance: 5 key points
- 3,285 positive tests were recorded on 28 June, the highest number since the start of the pandemic
- More than 80% of new cases are now in people under the age of 44
- On 29 June, 3,118 cases and one death of a patient with the virus were recorded, bringing the total to number of fatalities to 7,713
- The First Minister said she was still confident that restrictions could be further eased as planned on 19 July and 9 August but now is a “critical moment” to stick with Covid rules
- She said the vaccine programme had broken the link between case numbers and serious illness
What’s been said
Speaking during a Covid briefing, the First Minister said: “When we look at cases over the past week by the date the specimen was taken, as opposed to the date on which we report the test result, which are the numbers we report on a daily basis, then what we see is a peak in cases last Tuesday [22 June], and since then we have seen what appears to be a slowing down of the rate of increase.”
She stressed it was “early days” and the trend would be monitored over coming days.
“While we are comparing case numbers now to the situation at the start of the year, it is the case that at the start of the year, which was the last time case numbers were anywhere near the levels they are at now, we were in much a stricter lockdown,” she said.
“Far, far fewer restrictions are in force now.
“So the reality now is that without vaccination, the level of restrictions that are in place just now would undoubtedly be leading to far higher case numbers than is actually the case.
“So that’s the first sign that vaccination is actually having an effect.”
Ms Sturgeon said the Delta variant of Covid was first seeded into Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, potentially allowing it to spread “more quickly and extensively” – as opposed to Bolton in England which has a smaller population.
Aside from temporary events like football matches, she added this is partly down to lower levels of antibodies in the Scottish population due to lower cases earlier in the pandemic.
She said that in previous waves of the virus, Scotland had been “behind and below” the curve but it was now “slightly ahead and above”.
The announcement comes as the Scottish Government has announced that it will lift its ban on non-essential travel from Manchester and Salford on June 29.
It follows a dispute between First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham over the Covid rules, which came into effect on 21 June.
Mr Burnham said the ban was disproportionate and the Scottish Government had behaved disrespectfully and talks took place between the two sides last week.
Additional reporting by PA.