NICOLA Sturgeon has warned she is considering tightening Covid restrictions countrywide after almost 300 new positive cases were reported in the biggest daily jump since May 1. 

A logjam in the UK testing network, which is critical to avoiding a tougher lockdown, also means some swabs taken last week have yet to be reported, hampering contact tracing.

The First Minister told MSPs another 290 people had been identified with the virus overnight, taking the total number of laboratory confirmed cases to 25,573.

It means the total number of Scottish cases has grown by more than a fifth, or 21.1 per cent, in the past four weeks alone, despite the first case being confirmed as far back as March 1.  

The R number, which shows the rate of transmission, is now above the critical level of 1 in Scotland and could be as high as 1.4, Ms Sturgeon said.

Around 2m people in the North of England are due to go into a tighter lockdown tonight, with households banned from mixing and pubs closing early.

Updating Holyrood on the situation in Scotland before FMQs, Ms Sturgeon said 112 of the 290 new cases were within the Greater Glasgow and Clyde Health Board area.

Another 52 were in NHS Lanarkshire, 47 in NHS Lothian and the remaining 79 across nine other health boards, with NHS Western Isles having its first positive case in two weeks.

She said there were no Covid confirmed deaths registered in the past 24 hours.

Referring to the ban on twin-household gatherings of more than six people aged over 12 which started this week, she said: “We hope that the new rules that came into effect on Monday will help to reduce transmission and we will of course monitor that very carefully. 

“We are also considering carefully - on an on-going basis, obviously - whether any further restrictions may be necessary for all or part of the country.”

Boris Johnson admitted yesterday there were “huge problems” in the UK-wide testing system after an unexpected surge in demand in England led to delays in getting results.

Ms Sturgeon said that had led to a slow down in tests being processed for Scottish residents, with many taking more than the desired 48 hours.

She said: “Right now more of those daily cases are from swabs taken over the preceding few days. That is because of the backlog in the United Kingdom-wide laboratory network. 

“To be clear, our trend analysis of the virus is not affected by that, because that analysis looks at cases by date of sample, not just reporting date. 

“However, delays in test results being reported can delay contact tracing in some cases, which is why we are taking the issue so seriously. 

“There has been an improvement in the past couple of days, which is positive, but there are still some outstanding results from the past week, so we will continue to follow that up vigorously. We are also in regular and constructive contact with the UK Government and, of course, we are committed to working with it to help address that issue.”