The number of Covid cases recorded in Scotland over the past day has exceeded 5,000 for the first time since September 18.
On that date, 6,116 cases were identified, and the country was only just beginning to see the decline in the large wave that followed the easing of restrictions in August.
Today’s announcement of 5,018 new cases comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that Scots could see a “potential tsunami” of outbreaks in the coming weeks.
At a coronavirus briefing earlier today, she said the Omicron variant was to blame for the concerning increase, adding that forecasts suggest it could replace Delta as the dominant variant in the early days of next week.
Only one new Omicron case has been officially recorded in the past 24 hours, but the true figure is certain to be significantly higher – the lag is due to the move from interim reports to routine reports, according to Public Health Scotland.
A different method of identifying likely Omicron cases, which involves looking for ‘S-Gene target failure’ in PCR tests, found that this applied to 15.5% of all cases tested less than two weeks after the first examples of the variant were found in Scotland.
That suggests Omicron is rapidly becoming the most prevalent form of the virus in the country.
Deaths and hospital figures
According to statistics from the Scottish Government, the number of hospital patients with Covid and deaths of people who had recently tested positive for the virus has not significant increased or decreased in recent days.
There are 573 people in Scottish hospitals with coronavirus, down five from yesterday, and 40 people in the ICU, up one from yesterday.
There were 19 newly recorded deaths of people with Covid in the past 24 hours, with three in Aberdeenshire, one in the Highlands and one in Moray.
Due to the lag between people contracting the virus and being admitted to hospital, it is unlikely that an exponential increase in cases would affect these numbers in the coming days.
The number of patients with the virus in NHS Grampian hospitals has increased from 73 yesterday to 75 today, though the number in Aberdeen Royal Infirmary’s ICU remains below five.
There was a decrease in patient numbers at NHS Highland hospitals, from 28 to 25 today.
All local authorities in the mainland north and north-east recorded more than 100 new cases. Aberdeen had 162, while Aberdeenshire had 169, Moray had 107 and the Highlands had 149.
There was one new case in the Western Isles, two in Orkney and nine in Shetland.