RISING coronavirus cases could see Scotland's NHS "overwhelmed in some areas" even with people told to stay at home, an official paper has warned. 

The new document, State of the Epidemic in Scotland, said there has been a sharp rise in cases and hospital admissions over the last two weeks.

It said the new coronavirus variant, which is more transmissible, is now circulating widely and made up 62 per cent of new cases by January 11.

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The Scottish Government paper, published today, said the total estimated number of infections in Scotland last week was around 6,450 per day, which was an increase of almost 50% over a two-week period.

It said the weekly percentage of positive tests is 10.1%, a decrease from 11.9% this time last week but above the level a fortnight ago, which was 7.2%.

As of January 12, there has been "a decline in the incidence of weekly cases per 100,000 since last week", it said. 

However case rates for most areas "remain markedly higher compared to levels reported before Christmas".

Inverclyde has the highest case rate, with 438 new cases being reported per 100,000. 

The report said: "The UK as a whole has experienced substantial increases in case numbers over the past month. 

"Using cumulative seven day incidence per 100,000, Scotland’s case rate has consistently remained lower than the rest of the UK despite recent increases."

It said the number of people in hospital has increased by around 25% over the last week. 

It added: "Given the rise of the new virus variant, further analysis is ongoing to forecast the future impact on the number of infections and the NHS in conjunction with other modelling teams across the UK. 

"Given the current pattern of case numbers we expect to see rising levels of infection impacting on hospital and ICU, which could lead to the potential of the NHS being overwhelmed in some areas, even under a 'stay at home' scenario."

The paper said the first vaccines were administered on December 8 and by January 12, 175,942 people had received their first dose. 

It added: "It is anticipated that vaccination will reduce infection levels in the most vulnerable in the coming weeks and months and will make a significant difference to the NHS capacity required."