A NEW expert advisory group on coronavirus has been set up by the Scottish Government - as scientists believe there are “subtle differences” between different strains of Covid-19.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the advisory group will be chaired by Professor Andrew Morris from Edinburgh University.

Professor Morris is also the chief scientist at the Scottish Government’s health directorate.

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Professor David Crossman, the dean of medicine at the University of St Andrews, will serve as vice-chairman.

Ms Sturgeon said: "At all times, the Scottish Government's actions have been guided by the best and most up to date expert scientific advice, working closely of course with Governments across the UK.

"But as the number of cases increase it is every more important that we have the fullest possible understanding of exactly how the virus is spreading in Scotland.”

She added: "We need to be certain that the decisions we are taking are the most effective ones possible and we need to know whether there are more steps that are required to be taken.

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"So for that reason I can confirm today we are now seeking to supplement the advice from the UK Scientific Advisory Group on Emergencies, or Sage as it is known, and we are establishing a new Scottish Government Covid-19 advisory group."

Ms Sturgeon said that the new group will give “the fullest possible understanding of exactly how the virus is spreading in Scotland”.

On Friday, Scotland’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood said that research by scientists in England has found that “there is some concern that actually the doubling time of the virus is faster than we thought”, meaning Covid-19 is “infecting more people than we had thought originally”.

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It was initially thought that those with Covid-19 were passing it onto two or three people, but experts now believe this number to be higher in some cases.

Asked by The Herald if there are different strains of the virus in circulation, the Scottish Government said there is nothing to suggest that some strains are easier to spread than others.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The science demonstrates subtle differences in viruses identified across the globe.

“However there is no evidence of different Covid-19 strains being easier to spread.

“Scottish, UK and international scientists are keeping this under active review.”