NICOLA Sturgeon has warned Scotland is at a "critical" and "fragile" juncture in the fight against coronavirus

The First Minister said cases have "more than tripled over the last month" and the latest figures show the highest number of new cases since February 17.

It comes as parts of Scotland prepare to move down to Level One, while Glasgow will move to Level Two tomorrow. 

However Ms Sturgeon stressed the vaccination data is "really encouraging".

Speaking at a Scottish Government coronavirus briefing, she confirmed Scotland has recorded two deaths of coronavirus patients and 992 new cases in the past 24 hours.

The death toll under this daily measure, of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days, is now 7,676.

Ms Sturgeon said the new cases are being driven by the delta variant of the virus – formerly known as the Indian variant.

The daily test positivity rate is 3.9 per cent, up from 2.8% the previous day.

Ms Sturgeon said: "We are at a very critical juncture right now in what we still very much hope, and believe, is a transition to a less restrictive way of dealing with Covid, but the position we are in now on that transition is a fragile one."

She added: "On the downside, as we can see, cases are rising again, they have more than tripled over the last month and today the more than 900 cases that have been reported is the highest number of new cases since February 17.

"The R number is now estimated to be above one – indeed many experts believe that not just Scotland but the UK is now at the start of a third wave of Covid."

The First Minister said there are "strong indications that vaccines are weakening the link between rising case and hospitalisations" but warned this link has not yet been completely broken and hospital admissions are rising.

A total of 116 people were in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up six from the day before, with eight patients in intensive care, no change.

While a significant proportion of the population has not had both doses of the vaccine, everyone must exercise "continued care", Ms Sturgeon added.

So far, 2,170,570 people in Scotland have been given both doses of a Covid-19 vaccination, with 3,326,005 having received their first dose.

Glasgow, which had been under the strictest restrictions in all of Scotland, will move to Level Two from tomorrow, enabling people to meet others at home and hospitality venues to serve alcohol indoors.

On that date, many island communities will move to Level Zero - the lowest level there is under the Scotland's five-tier system - while 15 council areas will step down to Level One, enabling people to gather indoors and outdoors in larger groups and allowing larger attendances at weddings and funerals.

Highland, Argyll and Bute, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, Moray, Angus, Perth and Kinross, Falkirk, Fife, Inverclyde, East and West Lothian, West Dunbartonshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders are all moving to Level One.

A total of 13 local authority areas – Edinburgh, Midlothian, Dundee, East Dunbartonshire, Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire, East Ayrshire, North Ayrshire, South Ayrshire, North and South Lanarkshire, Clackmannanshire and Stirling – remain in Level Two for the time being.