Nicola Sturgeon delivered an update on the state of the Covid pandemic in Scotland earlier today.
The First Minister addressed the latest virus statistics, and revealed more about the emergence of the so-called ‘stealth Omicron’ variant in the country.
She also updated MSPs on face mask regulations in schools and said more about the Government’s ‘strategic framework’ set to be published in weeks.
Here are five things Nicola Sturgeon said during her speech earlier today.
Cases, hospitalizations and deaths from Covid
Nicola Sturgeon announced that 7,565 new cases have Covid have been identified in Scotland over the last 24 hours.
A total of 1,177 people are in hospital with Covid, with 42 currently in intensive care units.
The First Minister also said that a further 30 Covid deaths were recorded in the last day.
Sturgeon said that the most recent Covid data is giving the Scottish Government ‘grounds for optimism’.
She also added that Scotland is in a ‘much less severe’ situation than first anticipated following the outbreak of the Omicron variant.
Data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has shown that one in 30 people in Scotland had Covid in the week ending January 22.
But despite the positive feeling about recent data, Sturgeon said that the NHS remains under ‘acute pressure’ as it continues to deal with patients who became ill with the virus following a spike in case numbers in early January.
Changes to daily data
Nicola Sturgeon announced that Public Health Scotland will soon report on people who have been reinfected with Covid.
Currently, the daily information published by the Scottish Government shows the numbers of people who have become infected with Covid for the first time.
The First Minister said the change is crucial as the country continues to progress through the pandemic.
Stealth Omicron in Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon said that there have been 26 confirmed cases in Scotland of the sub-variant of Omicron, which is known as BA.2
That figure is expected to increase as scientists continue to investigate suspected cases of the strain, which has been identified as a ‘variant under investigation’.
The First Minister said that the BA.2 variant does not have the same S-gene drop out found in the original Omicron strain.
She added that the number of cases where the S-gene shows up is on the rise in Scotland, which could be a result of increasing transmission of the sub-variant.
There is so far no evidence that BA.2 results in severe disease and there is no evidence of vaccine immunity dropping.
However, there are studies that show that BA.2 may be more transmissible than Omicron.
Sturgeon said that there is so far no cause for alarm, but added that it warrants further study.
Face coverings in schools
Face coverings will continue to be required in Scottish secondary schools for at least another week.
Nicola Sturgeon said that the measure will still be required following the relaxation of other Covid measures in recent weeks.
The First Minister said that the Government’s advisory group on education had decided the time is not right to drop the face mask requirement.
It is expected that the advisory group will consider the issue once again next week.
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The Scottish Government is expected to publish its revised strategic framework after the February recess.
Sturgeon said that the document will set out details on how Scotland manages Covid without the need for restrictive measures in the remaining phases of the pandemic.
Officials will continue to consult with businesses, ministers and organizations before its publication.
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