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Jason Leitch: ‘We are coming out of the Omicron wave’

jason leitch
National clinical director Jason Leitch.

Scotland’s national clinical director has said the country is “coming out of the Omicron wave”.

Professor Jason Leitch believes we are moving towards an endemic, where different strains of coronavirus will emerge, and that teams will need to be prepared to vaccinate at the right time of year to keep them under control.

Positive cases in Scotland rose sharply due to the spread of Omicron peaking at just over 20,000 on January 3. But recent figures show the wave has been quick to fall too, dropping below 9,000 on January 20.

It means emergency restrictions imposed at the end of 2021 are beginning to ease, with sports fans allowed back into stadiums this week.

Next week, pubs and nightclubs will be able to relax their rules too.

The decision has also been made to relax isolation times for those being transferred from hospital into care homes. No longer will patients need to quarantine for two weeks.

‘We’ve learned that removing the plaster all at once goes badly’

Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Prof Leitch said: “Most coronaviruses end up endemic in a population which just mean they are predictable.

“We know where and when they are going to appear but endemic doesn’t mean mild so that might be where we are heading.

“So we can vaccinate at the right time of year, we can introduce slightly different behaviours for each other during those periods – in winter we may vaccinate – that’s what we are hoping will happen.”

On Monday, January 24, restrictions on indoor events will be lifted allowing theatres and nightclubs to reopen. Live shows will also be able to proceed.

Hospitality venues will no longer be required to impose physical distancing and table service.

An education recovery group has been set up to review when it would be the most appropriate time to remove the face masks in schools with Professor Leitch saying “that day is coming”.

He said that each country must judge what restrictions should be lifted first, whether it is the work from home order or face masks indoors.

Prof Leitch added: “We’ve learned that removing the plaster all at once goes badly. So don’t do it all at once. Do it gradually. Impose all at once because the virus will respond well to that. But as you come out, do it gradually.”

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