Another case of Omicron confirmed as Scots urged to test before mixing

Ten cases of the variant have now been found in Scotland.

Lucinda Cameron
Wednesday 01 December 2021 16:58
Scots are urged to test themselves for Covid before socialising this Christmas (PA)
Scots are urged to test themselves for Covid before socialising this Christmas (PA)

People are being urged to informally “Covid certify” themselves before attending events and family gatherings this Christmas as Scotland reported another case of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

Ten cases of the variant have now been found in Scotland, the UK Health Security Agency said on Wednesday, and its chief executive Dr Jenny Harries said it is “very likely that we will find more cases over the coming days”.

The lab-confirmed Omicron infection was just one of 2,796 new Covid cases reported within the past 24 hours.

Nineteen new deaths of people with the virus were reported on Wednesday, the Scottish Government said, and 54 people were in intensive care with a recently confirmed case of Covid-19.

Jason Leitch (right) said authorities are planning how to deliver the expanded booster programme in an ordered way (Jeff J Mitchell/PA)

Professor Jason Leitch, Scotland’s national clinical director, said people should do a “version of Covid certification” without the law telling them to, by taking a lateral flow device (LFD) test and ensuring they are vaccinated before they socialise.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is not asking people to put Christmas plans on hold at the moment following the emergence of the Omicron variant, but she urged Scots to take an LFD test before mixing with other households.

Prof Leitch told Times Radio: “Our tone is, if you are going to meet people outside your household, test.

Dr Jenny Harries said it is ‘very likely’ more cases of Omicron will be found (Toby Melville/PA)

“We should all have a version of Covid certification without the law telling us to Covid certify.

“I’m going to have Christmas dinner with my sister and her husband and my mum and dad.

“I’m not going to check their certificate at the door before my mum comes for turkey, but she is 81 and she will do a Covid test, she will do a lateral flow test before she comes, she’s had her booster and I can be as certain as I can that the environment I’m bringing her into is as safe as I can make it.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not going to have Christmas dinner and we’re not going to have a fun day, but she will Covid certify before she comes.

“I’m not going to QR scan her at the door, but if we can all think in those terms.”

The latest Scottish Government statistics show 702 people are in hospital with a recently confirmed case of Covid-19.

Of 37,518 tests carried out in the country, 7.9% were positive.

A total of 4,347,880 people have received their first vaccine dose, 3,951,364 their second, and 1,722,225 have had a third.

The booster campaign is set to be expanded after the UK’s Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation recommended the interval between the second and third dose is cut from six to three months.

Prof Leitch said vaccinating the extra one million people now eligible for the booster jab is a “big challenge”, but authorities are working to facilitate it.

He said: “Now that can’t happen on a single Thursday, you can’t suddenly do the extra million people who are now eligible, so we’ve got to do that in an ordered way, we’re going to work our way down through the ages.

“We’ve already opened to over-40s and next we’ll open down through those groups and we’ll tell the 18 to 39-year-olds how to do that in the next little while.”

On Omicron, Dr Harries said: “We are continuing our efforts to understand the effect of this variant on transmissibility, severe disease, mortality, antibody response and vaccine efficacy.

“Vaccination is critical to help us bolster our defences against this new variant – please get your first, second, third or booster jab without delay.”

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