SCOTLAND’S R number could now be as high as 1.3 as scientists estimate up to 10,000 people could be being infected with the virus every day.

New modelling data published by the Scottish Government found that it is estimated that there was a 16 per cent increase in “contacts within the home” over the festive period.

The modelling data sets out that the reproduction rate, R, is now estimated at being between 0.9 and 1.3. On December 15, the R number, how many people the virus is passed on by positive cases, was estimated to be between 0.9 and 1.1 - the first time it was thought to be above the 1 benchmark since October.

HeraldScotland: Plotting of the R numberPlotting of the R number

The study also states that “the number of new daily infections in Scotland is estimated as being between 47 and 188 per 100,000 people”.

It adds: “This equates to between 2,600 and 10,300 people becoming infected each day in Scotland.”

The paper warns that the percentage of cases of the new more transmissible variant of the virus, is “increasing rapidly in Scotland” - stating it has surged from 42.7 per cent on December 31 to 49.7 per cent on January 4.

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It adds: “It is very likely that this strain will further increase in dominance in Scotland in a similar way to that already seen in London and SE England.”

The modelling paper estimates what pressures on hospitals could look like in the coming weeks – but doesn’t take into account the impact of the lockdown currently in place across mainland Scotland.

Modelling data, using figures up to January 2 suggests that up to 15,000 infections a day could be recorded in Scotland by January 15 – setting out the need for national lockdown restrictions to have been put into action.

HeraldScotland: Modelling data for infections (Scottish Government)Modelling data for infections (Scottish Government)

The data also suggests that almost 3,000 hospital beds may have been needed by January 14 and more than 200 intensive care beds.

HeraldScotland: Modelling data for hospital beds (Scottish Government)Modelling data for hospital beds (Scottish Government)

HeraldScotland: Modelling data for intensive care units (Scottish Government)Modelling data for intensive care units (Scottish Government)

Data by scientists suggests that “overall mean contact” between households reduced for the festive week of December 24 to December 30 compared with the previous two weeks – but warned that “contacts within the home have increased by 16 per cent overall”.

It added: “The 50-59 age group show the largest increase of 26 per cent followed by those aged 60-69 with a 21 per cent increase.”

The report sets out that before and during the festive period, “the biggest proportional increases are seen in the interactions between the 30-39 age group with the age groups 60 or older with at least a 65 per cent increase in contacts observed” - indicating that those in their 30s had met up with parents over the festive break.

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The report adds: “There have been increases in participants visiting another’s home and beauticians/hairdressers in the last two weeks.

“All remaining settings display a slight decrease or are consistent with the level two weeks prior.

“The biggest change in participant behaviour over the last two weeks has been visiting another’s home. The percentage of participants has increased from 31 per cent in the week of 10 – 16 December to 41 per cent for the week 24 – 30 December. This follows the relaxation of the household restrictions, the first since 23 September.”