HOSPITAL admissions for Covid patients have doubled, but are continuing to lag behind the levels seen during the beginning of the second wave in September.

The latest data comes as Edinburgh's virus rates overtook Glasgow for the first time since the new Delta variant began spreading in Scotland, and hospitality bosses warned that a Glasgow fan zone for the Euros football tournament could tip the city back into Level Three restrictions.

Figures from Public Health Scotland show that the number of Covid patients being admitted to hospital climbed from an average of 10 per day on May 18 to 19.1 per day two weeks later, on June 1.

HeraldScotland: Hospital admissions have been rising in Scotland since around May 5Hospital admissions have been rising in Scotland since around May 5

This can include people admitted to hospital for other reasons - such as cancer patients undergoing treatment or children with broken bones - who then test positive for the infection.

However, it also coincides with a rapid increase in cases being detected in the community. In the past month, infections have soared more than four-fold, from 1,196 in the week ending May 7 to 5,258 in the week to June 7.

This has been partly driven by the arrival of a new more transmissible Covid strain - the B1.617.2 'Delta' variant first identified in India - which has been outcompeting the previously dominant 'Alpha', or Kent, mutation.

The number of Covid patients in hospital has also risen steadily over the past month, from 68 to 112 yesterday, although ICU numbers have remained fairly low - reaching 12 yesterday compared to five on May 24.

HeraldScotland: Covid ICU admissions are rising but remain lowCovid ICU admissions are rising but remain low

ANALYSIS: Scotland at critical juncture in pandemic with cause for optimism - and signs of danger 

Analysis of the data also shows that hospital admissions appear to be rising more slowly than they were earlier in the pandemic, which would fit with expectations that the vaccines are helping to weaken the link between infection and serious illness.

As of June 1, Scotland was averaging nearly 583 Covid cases per day, 19.1 hospital admissions, and 1.1 ICU admissions.

By comparison, however, on September 30 - when Scotland was averaging 595 cases per day as the second wave took off - daily hospital admissions were already twice as high: 36.3 overall, and 2.3 per day for intensive care.

Hospital admissions are also now being dominated by younger age groups. The most recent age breakdown for admissions - for the week ending May 26 - shows that 94 out of the 119 'Covid admissions' were for patients aged 64 or under.

To date, 97% of over-65s in Scotland are fully vaccinated with both doses, although nearly 31,000 people in this age group are still awaiting second doses - or have chosen not to get it.

READ MORE: Edinburgh Covid rate overtakes Glasgow 

It comes amid warnings that Glasgow should not be put back into Level Three restrictions if the city's Euros fan zone causes a spike in cases.

Up to 6,000 people per day will be able to watch matches at the outdoor spectators' venue in Glasgow Green, but public health experts have voiced concerns that singing, goal celebrations and alcohol consumption pose a risk of virus spread.

Stephen Montgomery, a spokesman for the Scottish Hospitality Group, added that the plans were "an absolute slap to the hospitality sector within Glasgow".

HeraldScotland: An open air fanzone is planned as part of the Euros celebrations, at Glasgow GreenAn open air fanzone is planned as part of the Euros celebrations, at Glasgow Green

Attendees at the fan zone are being encouraged to test themselves before going, but a negative result will not be required before entry is granted.

"We've seen in Liverpool in the trial events that everyone was tested before they went in and everyone was tested after they finished," Mr Montgomery said.

The Scottish Conservatives said there had been "mixed messaging" over the fan zone.The Scottish Government will confirm plans for the fan zone this week, ahead of the tournament kicking off on Friday.

READ MORE: NHS Lanarkshire invites residents to book earlier second dose appointments 

Meanwhile, figures show that Edinburgh's case rate has now overtaken Glasgow.

The seven-day virus rate in the capital had reached 166.7 per 100,000 by June 4, compared to 156.4 per 100,000 in Glasgow.

Edinburgh's case rate has more than doubled from 65.9 per 100,000 as of May 26, while Glasgow's rose by just 24% over the same time period.

Edinburgh has been at Level Two since May 17, meaning that household visiting and alcohol indoors in pubs and restaurants resumed there three weeks ahead of Glasgow where an outbreak of the Delta stalled its exit from lockdown.