PARTS of Glasgow are seeing a spike in Covid cases which appear to be linked to the spread of new variants, according to a public health leader.

Dr Linda de Caestecker said that some postcodes in parts of south Glasgow are experiencing "clusters" of infection which have pushed the city's virus rate to 74 per 100,000 - compared to 25.5 per 100,000 for Scotland as a whole.

It comes amid reports tonight that SAGE - the group of expert scientific advisors counselling the UK Government on the pandemic - are to hold an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss a surge in the UK of cases of the highly transmissible Indian variant B1.167.2, which are understood to have tripled in the space of a week from around 520 to 1700.

READ MORE: Early Covid warning system could prevent lockdowns 

Dr de Caestecker, the director of public health for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "For Greater Glasgow and Clyde we're seeing continued reductions in our numbers and our rates, but over recent days we have seen an increase in cases in Glasgow city.

"That's particularly in some postcodes to the south of the city and it's meant that our rate in Glasgow city has gone up to 74 per 100,000, although it's still at 50 for Greater Glasgow and Clyde as a whole.

"And in some of our areas, such as Inverclyde, the rates are still low."

HeraldScotland: Cases have been rising recently in Glasgow city (graph by Travelling Tabby)Cases have been rising recently in Glasgow city (graph by Travelling Tabby)

Dr de Caestecker told BBC Scotland's Drivetime programme that the spike seemed to be linked to "households mixing together", according to data being gathered by contact tracers through Test and Protect.

She said: "I think as the rates go down, people feel 'well, we're going to be relaxing restrictions very soon anyway'.

"We've got evidence that there is more social mixing happening in some of these is household clusters we're seeing, concentrated in specific postcodes."

People living in affected areas are being encouraged to pick up free rapid testing kits even if they have no symptoms, and to self-isolate immediately if they test positive or develop symptoms.

Dr de Caestecker said that it "seems likely" the surge is being driven partly by variants other than the 'Kent' strain, which has been dominant in the UK this year.

"We need to wait for the genome sequencing to give us that information," she said. "It looks like a number of the cases are not due to the Kent variant which was the most prevalent variant up until now."

HeraldScotland: Clackmannanshire and East Renfrewshire are also seeing recent rises in cases (Graphs by Travelling Tabby)Clackmannanshire and East Renfrewshire are also seeing recent rises in cases (Graphs by Travelling Tabby)

A subtype of the Indian variant - B1.617.2 - was named a variant of concern last week after it was linked to rapid rises in infection in London and South East England.

In Scotland there were 18 known cases and 10 suspected of this subtype so far, according to an update yesterday from chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith.

It is said to be "at least as transmissible" as the Kent variant, but there has also been growing evidence - from India and parts of England - that it seems able to outcompete it. 

Brazilian, South African and Nigerian variants of concern have also been found in Scotland, however.

READ MORE: Why UK scientists are growing worried about the Indian variant 

Dr de Caestecker said public health teams are working to get on top of the increases so that Glasgow can move into Level Two restrictions as planned from Monday, but cautioned that she was "worried about this increase".

"We're working really hard to get on top of it quickly and make sure that we don't let it spread that there is reassurance that we can all move to these lower levels.

"We have to look not just at the rates but the hospitalisations, the numbers of people in ICU.

"Between now and Monday - it's not for me to say what the levels will be - but at the moment we are still anticipating we will move to a lower level on Monday, but we will be doing everything we can to manage this increase in cases in some defined areas of Glasgow city."

Scottish Government data shows that there are currently 23 Covid patients in hospital across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region. 

This is down from a spike in admissions earlier this month, which saw the number of people in hospital in NHS GGC with recently diagnosed Covid double from 15 on May 4 to 30 by May 10, before decreasing again.

Dr de Caestecker added that while vaccine uptake had been very high in older age groups, it had slowed down slightly in younger people.

"We're seeing lower uptake - still high, still in the 80s, but we want it to be well into the 90s."

She added that some of the localised increases in infection also correlated with Black, Asian, and minority ethnic communities where there is more vaccine hesitancy.

"There is some evidence that they are more affected by this [increase]," said Dr de Caestecker.

"There's a higher number of these groups in the populations in these postcodes, and so we're working really closely with these communities."