Nicola Sturgeon has warned some Covid controls could be reimposed in Scotland after the country recorded a record spike in new cases, which have doubled in the past week.
The first minister said 4,324 new cases were detected in Scotland in the last 24 hours – the highest daily figure on record, with nearly half of those occurring among under-25-year-olds.
Sturgeon said that a rise in cases had been expected after the country followed the rest of the UK by removing nearly all restrictions on travel, businesses, sports and socialising earlier this month.
The “exceptional” levels of vaccinations had greatly lessened the effects of the virus but even so, if that trajectory continued some controls could be needed again to suppress infections, Sturgeon said.
“This is yet another fragile and potentially pivotal moment in our journey through this pandemic,” she told a media briefing today.
Sturgeon said that rise in cases would mean more hospitalisations and more deaths, including those who have had both Covid vaccination doses.
Some Scottish hospitals have already cancelled non-essential operations to relieve pressure on wards, with accident and emergency patients experiencing long delays in being seen. “The situation in our NHS is incredibly difficult,” she told reporters.
There were 364 people in hospital today, an increase of eight overnight, and 43 people in intensive care, up two. Another 10 people with confirmed Covid infections had died in the last 24 hours, taking the total under that measure to 8,080 fatalities.
Sturgeon urged younger adults and teenagers to be vaccinated. While 80% of all Scotland’s over-18s (3.6 million people) had now had both doses, that figure declined sharply in under 40s. Only 41% of 18- to 29-year-olds have had both doses, with 71% having their first dose.
Sturgeon said it was vital people continued physical distancing and basic hygiene rules: continue using masks indoors; avoid shaking hands; meet outdoors wherever possible and keep indoor spaces well-ventilated.