Six cases of Omicron variant found in Scotland

Six cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland, the Scottish Government has announced.

Four cases are in the Lanarkshire area and two have been identified in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said that some of the cases identified have no travel history, which suggests there is a degree of community transmission.

Public Health Scotland and local health protection teams are working together and “enhanced” contact tracing is being undertaken to establish the origin of the virus and any individuals the people have come into contact with in recent weeks.

All close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This will be a worrying time for the six people now identified as having the new variant. All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases.

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

“There is still much to learn about the Omicron variant. Questions remain about its severity, transmissibility and response to treatments or vaccines and scientists are working at pace to provide additional information.

Coronavirus graphic
(PA Graphics)

“Until more is known we must be cautious and do everything we can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.”

Mr Swinney said there is travel history on some but not all of the cases, which opens up “further challenges”.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We obviously have some travel history on some of the cases, I don’t have all of that detail available to me at this stage, but on some of the cases we are aware that there is no travel history involved on some of the cases.

“So what that tells us is that there must be a degree of community transmission of this particular strain of the virus in the absence of direct travel connection for some of the cases in the southern African area.

“So that obviously opens up further challenges for us in terms of interrupting the spread of this particular strain of the virus and that will be the focus of the contact tracing operation that is under way already.”

The first two cases in the UK – in Nottingham and Essex – were announced on Saturday, while a third Omicron case was detected in the UK on Sunday in a person with travel links to southern Africa.

Britain will convene an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss the variant first detected in South Africa amid concerns it could spread rapidly and partially evade existing jabs.

Passengers arriving in the UK from 4am on Tuesday will be required to take a PCR test by the end of their second day from entry and isolate until they receive a negative test, while 10 southern African nations have been added to the red travel list.

Mr Yousaf said: “We have already taken steps and are aligning with the new border restrictions being introduced by the UK Government which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-isolate until a negative result is received.

“These measures will be introduced as soon as possible and kept under constant review. However, we reserve the right to go further if necessary.

“We are also adopting the expanded red list of countries identified by the UK Government. This will also be kept under review.”

He urged people to redouble their efforts to follow basic rules such as mask wearing and hand washing and to get their vaccinations, including their booster, if eligible.