Scotland has detected a record 15,900 new cases of Covid, with around 80% of those believed to be the highly infectious variant of Omicron, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs.
In an emergency update to the Scottish Parliament, the Prime Minister said positive cases accounted for 29% of all tests carried out on Tuesday. The previous Scottish record was reached on Sunday, with 11,030 new cases reported.
Sturgeon said the Omicron variant was so contagious that it was reasonable to assume that there would be further “sharp increases in cases in the days and possibly weeks to come.”
She urged eligible adults to book booster vaccinations after revealing that so far only 75% had received their booster or third dose. She hinted that the Scottish government could miss its goal of increasing 80% of adults by Friday, December 31, a target date coinciding with Hogmanay.
“Please don’t delay,” she said. “Every booster shot administered now is a step on the way back to normalcy.”
Sturgeon said the slowing of booster vaccinations influenced the Scottish government decision not to reduce the self-isolation period for close contacts from 10 to seven days – a measure introduced by the British government in England.
Faced with intense pressure from Tories and Labor to reduce self-isolation time to ease staff pressures on businesses and utilities, Sturgeon said a careful balance needed to be struck between helping businesses and remove the virus.
Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories, said businesses across Scotland were grappling with high levels of staffing and unable to plan ahead due to the Sturgeon “quake”. Some businesses were closing.
Big Hogmanay events, including the Edinburgh street party and fireworks display, and the Loony Dook swim in Queensferry, have been called off, with ministers urging revelers to stay home or attend small parties .