Harsher Christmas restrictions could be on the way for Scotland as fears grow over a new strain of Covid.
Nicola Sturgeon will update the public this afternoon after calling an urgent cabinet meeting.
England’s chief medical officer Chris Whitty has said that the new strain “can spread more quickly”.
A call between the four home nations to discuss the risk took place earlier today.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Cases are currently at a lower level in Scotland than the rest of the UK, but preventative action may be necessary to stop the faster spreading strain taking hold.”
Following a 4 nations COVID call earlier, I’ll chair @scotgov Cabinet meeting this afternoon to discuss emerging evidence on new variant. Cases currently at lower level in Scotland than rUK – but preventative action may be necessary to stop faster spreading strain taking hold. https://t.co/kGLC5ZMboA
— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) December 19, 2020
The current laws will see rules relaxed for a five-day period between December 23 and 27.
But Holyrood has issued harsher guidance – advising Scots to stay home and limit time spent with loved ones as much as possible.
People have also been asked to keep the number of adults in their bubble below the recommended limit of eight.
The new strain
Chris Whitty announced on Monday that a new variant of Covid-19 had been identified through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance.
The UK informed the World Health Organisation that it had concluded the mutant strain could spread more quickly.
Mr Whitty said: “As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the south-east, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.
“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.
“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is under way to confirm this.
“Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”