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Nicola Sturgeon to give Covid statement to recalled parliament: Here’s what to expect

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a Covid-19 update PIC: PA
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will deliver a Covid-19 update PIC: PA

The Scottish Parliament has been recalled today ahead of a Covid update from Nicola Sturgeon, as the Omicron variant causes cases to rocket around the country.

The first minister will brief MSPs on the current situation, and outline the measures that the government believes will help keep the spread under control, during the virtual session.

Today’s recall has been in the schedule for more than a week.


You can also follow everything said on our Live Blog HERE.


 

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone announced the session over Twitter on December 21, saying: “Parliament will be asked to agree to sit on 29 December, and potentially 5 January, for an update on Covid and questions from MSPs.”

Nicola Sturgeon

What is the current situation with Omicron in Scotland?

Over the past four days, Scotland has recorded its four highest daily Covid case counts since the beginning of the pandemic.

Fuelled by the more transmissible Omicron variant of the virus, the country recorded:

  • December 25 – 8,252 cases
  • December 26 – 11,030 cases
  • December 27 – 10,562 cases
  • December 28 – 9,360 cases

Due to longer turnaround times for results at the moment and the fact that the majority of these cases were tested before the large number of social gatherings on Christmas Day, it is likely that the true number of cases is much higher.

Jason Leitch fans
National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch, who has said the Omicron peak may come in late January.

Before December 25, the daily case count had never risen above 8,000 – and it is almost certain that higher figures are still to come.

Speaking to the BBC yesterday, National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch said: “The modelling suggests that the peak of the Omicron wave in the UK would be around mid-to-late January pushing into February.”

Reacting to yesterday’s data, Ms Sturgeon said: “These figures underline how important it is that we don’t underestimate the impact of Omicron – even if the rate of hospitalisation associated with it is much lower than past strains of the virus, case numbers this high will still put an inevitable further strain on NHS.”

What can we expect to see today?

There has been little advance notice of what the first minister is likely to say in her statement today, with few hints that further restrictions are on their way.

It may be the case that Ms Sturgeon simply uses her time to go through the latest coronavirus statistics and to remind Scots about the measures that are currently in place.

Attendance at large-scale public gatherings has been limited since 5am on Boxing Day, while social distancing is now necessary at gyms, theatres and cinemas, and venues that serve alcohol are limited to table service.


In full: The new Omicron Covid rules in Scotland


These measures have meant many Hogmanay plans have had to be cancelled or altered – and the first minister may use her statement to urge those in Scotland not to travel across the border to England where New Years Eve will be free of restrictions.

The coronavirus briefing will be available to watch at around 2pm this afternoon on Scottish Parliament TV.

You can also follow everything said on our Live Blog HERE.

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