Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed the more transmissible variant found in India has led to the “bump in the road” which has caused a a surge in cases in Glasgow, East Renfrewshire and Clackmannanshire, and a slight rise in hospitalisations.
In a coronavirus briefing on Tuesday, Scotland’s first minister said three more people had been admitted to hospital with confirmed Covid-19 overnight, taking the total to 96, and the number of patients in intensive care was up one to 6.
There had also been two deaths of Covid patients over the past 24 hours. Those are the first deaths reported in Scotland since 14 May, taking Scotland’s total fatalities involving confirmed cases to 7,666.
Sturgeon said those data were far lower than at the peak of the pandemic, when more than 2,000 people were hospitalised, but said they underscored the case for caution and continued controls. The test positivity rate was slightly up too, from a seven-day rate of 1.8% to 2% overnight. That was due in large part to the India variant, called the April 02 variant in Scotland.
She said the mass vaccination programme would allow ministers and health chiefs to deploy a much less aggressive lockdown regime in the near future: in line with evidence from UK-level population monitoring, they hoped the vaccinations would greatly reduce the number of infected people going to hospital and dying.
She said 3.14m people in Scotland had now had their first doses, and nearly 1.9m had had both.
Sturgeon added that the latest data from East Renfrewshire, where cases spiked last week, had stabilised. Its seven-day case rate to 21 May was 113.1 per 100,000. In Glasgow, the only Scottish council area remaining in tier 3, the second-highest tier, there were early signs the ongoing surge was slowing. Its seven-day rate was 136.8. Hospitalisation figures in Greater Glasgow and Clyde were stable over the weekend.
Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland’s chief medical officer, said a sharp rise in case rates in Clackmannanshire, which had Scotland’s highest per capita rate of 139.7 last week, was due to a few local clusters among younger adults.
Because Clackmannanshire has a small population, health officials were not alarmed; there was little evidence of wider community transmission. Daily reported cases were less than 10 there, he said.