Six cases of Covid-19 Omicron variant identified in Scotland

Coronavirus - Tue Sep 22, 2020
People wearing protective face masks walk past a bar in Edinburgh city centre, after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced a range of new measures to combat the rise in coronavirus cases in Scotland.
Four of the Covid-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Scotland are in the Lanarkshire area. Credit: PA

Six cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland, the Scottish Government has announced.

It takes the total number of Omicron variant cases in the UK to nine after three were identified over the weekend.

Four of the Covid-19 Omicron variant cases identified in Scotland are in the Lanarkshire area, with two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Public Health Scotland and local health protection teams are working together and contact tracing is being undertaken to establish the origin of the virus and any individuals they have come into contact with.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said not all cases found in Scotland could be linked to international travel, suggesting there had been community transmission.

She said: "At this stage we know that not all of them have any recent travel history to or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.

"This suggests that there might already be some community transmission of this variant in Scotland but again let me stress there is no evidence yet that this is sustained nor any evidence from the enhanced surveillance that it is widespread at this stage."

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This will be a worrying time for the six people now identified as having the new variant. All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases.

“Until more is known we must be cautious and do everything we can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.”

He added: “We have already taken steps and are aligning with the new border restrictions being introduced by the UK Government which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-isolate until a negative result is received.

“These measures will be introduced as soon as possible and kept under constant review. However, we reserve the right to go further if necessary. We are also adopting the expanded red list of countries identified by the UK government. This will also be kept under review.

“We must now redouble our efforts to follow the basic rules that have served us well throughout the pandemic – wear a face covering on public transport and in all indoor settings for food and retail; open windows, especially if you have people visiting at home; keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly. Work from home where possible, take regular lateral flow tests – especially before mixing with others outside your household.”

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He said that all close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

Mr Yousaf urged people to get their vaccinations, including a booster, if they are eligible.

It comes after three other cases the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) said on Sunday a the person tested positive for the variant after arriving in the UK and the case is linked to travel to southern Africa.

The UKHSA said the person was in Westminster, central London, during their stay but is no longer in the UK. One of the earlier reported cases is located in Brentwood, Essex, while the other is in Nottingham, Mr Javid said.