THERE are "some signs for cautious optimism" that the Covid outbreak in Glasgow is stabilising, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In a daily briefing today the First Minister said: "Just in the past two days we think we are seeing signs of cases stabilising".

It comes ahead of the next update on Levels which is due to Friday, potentially paving the way for Glasgow to be moved down to Level Two.

Ms Sturgeon said officials are closely monitoring hospital intensive care admissions, which remain at six Scotland-wide, adding that the Government believes that vaccines are "breaking the link between hospitalisations and cases".

She added: "This might mean that we don't have to react so aggressively to rising case numbers."

There are 97 people in hospital with Covid, compared to over 2000 at the peak of the second wave in January.  

Ms Sturgeon added that in East Renfrewshire there are early signs that the situation "has stabilised" but it was "too early" to be sure.

The seven-day case rate for Glasgow City was nearly 139 per 100,000 by May 22, but the catchment of Kingston West and Dumbreck in the southside of the city has overtaken Pollokshields and now has the highest incidence at 879.8 cases per 100,000. 

Pollokshields East has the second highest incidence of 754.4, followed by the Ibrox East and Cessnock area on 692.4 per 100,000. 

Asked whether there was a particular benchmark that the Government would be looking for ICU numbers to remain below in order to move Glasgow into Level Two, Ms Sturgeon said the decision was "complex".

She said: "I would strongly guard against the idea of there being a threshold number for ICU cases by the end of the week. It's more nuanced and complex than that.

"What we're looking for is whether, in any given number of cases, we're seeing the same translation into hospital and ICU cases that we would have been if these cases had been happening before anyone was vaccinated.

"It's not about saying no one will be admitted to intensive care, it's about that link between case numbers rising and an inevitable rise in intensive care admissions and seeing that link become less definite. 

"There will be judgements to make around that and at this stage we can't say to what extent that break in the link is happening. So it's not that if we're at 10 patients by Friday we're okay, it's more complicated than that."

The number of people in hospital with recently diagnosed Covid in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region has climbed from 21 to 51 in just over a week, since Sunday May 16.

However, despite that increase the number of Covid patients in ICU across the Glasgow health board region has remained consistently low, at fewer than five. 

Dr Gregor Smith, Scotland's chief medical officer, said just over a third of recent admissions were people from minority ethnic backgrounds with "an increase in admissions particularly from those affected postcodes in the south of Glasgow".

Pollokshields in the south of Glasgow is home to a large South Asian community and has been the epicentre of the outbreak in cases driven by the fast-spreading Indian - or 'April-02' - variant.

"There's a span of age groups within that and further analysis is being done into vaccination status," added Dr Smith, who also confirmed that the B1.617.2 'Indian' variant now accounts for around half of the infections being detected in Scotland

While there is a time lag for genomic sequencing to be carried out, scientists are able to distinguish cases that are not caused by the previously dominant 'Kent' strain by looking for a marker known as 'S-gene positivity' instead. 

Dr Smith said: "Ninety per cent of S-gene positive cases are the April-02 [Indian] variant, and 58% of the cases in Scotland yesterday were S-gene positive."

There were a total of 318 Covid cases detected in Scotland in the past 24 hours, suggesting that around 166 were Indian variant cases. 

To date only 136 Indian variants cases had been confirmed in Scotland through genomic sequencing.