MORE than a quarter of all new Covid cases reported in the Lothian area in the past month have been detected in the past three days, new figures show.

Similar patterns are occurring in the Grampian and Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board regions, suggesting a possible link to increased activity in Scotland's major cities of Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow.

It comes amid concerns that Scots are becoming "slightly more relaxed" about physical distancing, with 86 cases in total reported between Monday and Sunday of last week - up from 63 during the previous seven days.

Until now, weekly case numbers had been falling steadily since the peak in April, but there have been repeated warnings that the easing of lockdown restrictions would be risky unless the public strictly followed hygiene and distancing guidelines.

READ MORE: Decline in Scotland's Covid cases slowing 

Beer gardens and outdoor dining resumed from July 6, followed on July 10 by increases in the number of people and different households allowed to meet up indoors and outside.

Last Wednesday also saw the return of hairdressers, pubs and restaurants, with nail bars and beauty salons allowed to begin trading again from tomorrow.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney praised "extraordinarily high" use of face coverings in shops and on public transport, but urged the public to stick with social distancing measures to prevent a spike in transmission.

Mr Swinney said: "My sense is that people are becoming slightly more relaxed about physical distancing.

"I think we've got to watch that very carefully and I appeal to members of the public to keep following the physical distancing regulations that are in place, because that way we reduce the risk of connection and contact that can support transmission."

The latest figures on coronavirus by health board show that Lothian has had 41 new cases since June 20, but 11 of them - 27 per cent - have been reported since Friday.

In Greater Glasgow and Clyde, there have been 95 new cases since June 20, 17 of them (18%) reported since Friday.

In Grampian, of the 30 new cases since June 20, seven of them (23%) were reported in the past three days.

In Ayrshire and Arran, five new cases have emerged since Friday - equivalent to 28% of the 18 reported since June 20.

READ MORE: Facemask hostility was predictable - we've seen it all before with seatbelts and vaccines 

Meanwhile, Orkney, Shetland, and the Western Isles have reported no new cases at all in more than four weeks, with only one reported in the Borders and five in the Highlands.

Prevalence of the virus has been declining rapidly in Scotland, with the most recent estimates suggesting there were just 700 infectious people in the population.

There have been only two confirmed Covid deaths in Scotland in the past fortnight and seven new cases yesterday.

The number of people in hospital known to have the virus has also fallen to 299 - the lowest since records began in March.

However, last week saw a total of 86 new Covid cases reported. It is the first time since daily data from all testing sites - hospitals, drive-thru centres, mobile testing units and home-testing kits - began being published from June 15 that there has been any notable increase.

Previously, the weekly figures had been 155, 80, 60, and 63. Prior to June 15, only test results from hospital labs were published.

Increased testing could explain the increase - over 62,000 have been carried out in each of the past two weeks, compared to around 31,000 a week in the previous three weeks.

Percentage positivity - the number of Covid cases detected per 100 tests - also remains very low, at 0.14% last week and 0.1% the week before, compared to 0.5% in the week beginning June 15.

Anything under 5% is considered safe by the World Health Organisation as it indicates that testing levels are high enough to manage the prevalence of virus in a given population.

READ MORE: One Covid case detected for every 200 tests as Scotland falls within New Zealand-style testing benchmark

In Florida, which is battling a surge in Covid outbreaks, percentage positivity has been running at 11% in recent days.

It comes amid claims that social distancing was "lax" at a Lanarkshire call centre linked to a cluster of eight cases.

Employees at the Sitel premises, near Motherwell, carry out contact tracing for Public Health England.

A 19-year-old woman, who has asthma and has tested positive for the virus, told the PA news agency that workers were separated at their desks, with one-way systems and hand sanitiser "everywhere".

But she said a lack of seating in communal areas meant staff sat together at breaks.

She said: "There's benches and they have tape, and where there is no tape you can sit, so there are two metres in place. But there are not enough seats so people are bumping in together."

"They do put the things in place, it's just the workers aren't enforcing them."

The teenager added that staff from the Test and Trace team were now handling so few calls that they "are sitting playing games with each other just to keep the time going".

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman Monica Lennon confirmed she had previously reported Sitel to police and public health authorities after staff contacted her regarding conditions in the call centre.

She said: "Contact centres like Sitel in Lanarkshire, who run the site where there has been an outbreak, have been named and shamed for their treatment of staff, when many of them could have worked from home."

Mr Swinney said the company could be fined if breaches were uncovered.

An NHS Test and Trace spokeswoman said: "We take the safety and well-being of our staff very seriously.

"Everyone at the site is currently working from home while a deep clean takes place."