Scotland has recorded its highest number of Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish Parliament that 15,849 people tested positive for the virus in the latest 24-hour period.
That represents 28.9% of all tests carried out.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is reasonable to assume that we will continue to see steep increases in cases in the days and possibly weeks ahead.
Period ahead ‘will not be an easy one’
“I have to be clear that the period immediately ahead will not be an easy one.”
Three further deaths have also been reported and 679 people are in hospital with coronavirus, an increase of 80 from the previous day, while 36 people are in intensive care.
Ms Sturgeon has not announced any new restrictions despite the rising case numbers, but says current restrictions which limit social gatherings are likely to stay until January 17.
However, she says that the government is considering whether to make changes for the self-isolation period for anyone with the virus.
People who have tested positive in England now only have to isolate for seven days, while it has been dropped to five in the United States.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We need to get this right.
“We are taking a few more days because we have rapidly rising cases fluctuating due to the Christmas period and we need to make a judgement that weighs the benefits of this.
“I think it make sense to make sure we are making changes in a coherent way.”
Stay home ‘more than normal’
Meanwhile essential workers, such as NHS and transport staff, will also be prioritised for PCR testing amid high demand.
The first minister is also urging Scots to stay at home “more than normal” over New Year and into next week.
She has also repeated her call for people to “get boosted by the bells”, with 25% of eligible people yet to receive a booster or third dose.
The first minister said: “If you have an appointment for January, reschedule for this week.
“There are plenty of slots available. Please don’t delay. Every booster jag administered now is a step on the road back to normality.”
She added that anyone choosing not to be vaccinated “without good reason is acting irresponsibly”.
Rules currently in place
New restrictions were introduced for live public events just before Christmas.
A maximum of 500 people can attend outdoor events while indoor capacities are limited to 200 seated and 100 standing.
Those rules mean that Scotland’s main Hogmanay events have been cancelled for a second year.
Hospitality venues can remain open, but drinks must be served at tables, and nightclubs have been forced to shut.
The Scottish Government will review these restrictions on January 11.