NHS Lanarkshire would need to more than double its coronavirus intensive care capacity within weeks if no action was taken to reduce the spread of the virus, Scotland's national clinical director has said.

Jason Leitch said it "takes almost no effort" for the virus to reach smaller communities and to start spreading. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously warned the North and South Lanarkshire council areas could return to near-lockdown when the new five-tier coronavirus system comes into force from Monday. 

The areas could move into level four, forcing hospitality and non-essential shops to shut.

Mr Leitch suggested rural communities with low transmission rates may need to live under tougher restrictions if their local hospital is filling up. 

He said parts of Lanarkshire are rural but nevertheless feed into the health board's three hospitals. 

He said: "They presently have a capacity for 30 intensive care Covid cases. 

"Now that's already double what they would have in conventional times. 

"The present modelling says that in six weeks' time, we will need 76, unless we do something.

"And that's what we're doing – we're restricting people's liberty; we're making people stay at home."

Mr Leitch said it would be a similar situation elsewhere. 

He said: "The public health advice will of course consider the local scenario, but it will also have to include the admissions and the ICU capacity."