HEALTH Secretary Humza Yousaf has stressed the Delta variant is a “bump in the road” to Scotland’s exit routemap amid speculation Nicola Sturgeon could echo Boris Johnson in delaying the easing of restrictions.

Reports suggest the prime minister could delay the full re-opening of the economy and personal freedoms in England, earmarked for June 21, until August.

The First Minister is due to update MSPs in Holyrood on Tuesday and could signal a similar move – with the Prime Minister announcing his updated plans for England on Monday.

Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday Show, Mr Yousaf insisted the Scottish Government’s “approach has always been consistent”.

He added: “We have taken a cautious approach - we have always been led by the public health data.

“We as a Government came under pressure when the UK Government announced their June 21 date to give some sort of indication to give similar dates around June 21.

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"We resisted that because we take a week-by-week analysis of the data, we look at where we are going in terms of our roadmap and the First Minister will, of course, update Parliament next week, again in line with the latest data that we have.”

Mr Yousaf warned that “there’s no doubt at all that the Delta variant is absolutely a bump in the road” adding that “we have to just ensure that we understand fully the affects and link between the rising number of cases and hospitalisations and that is the key critical question”.

He added: “If we think the link between positive cases and hospitalisation has weakened, which again the positive in that sense, how do we determine what local authority will then stay in what level as we move forward?

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“If we can, as we hope we can with the vaccination, (we can) effectively live with this virus so we don’t have to go into perpetual lockdowns.

“I’m not going to pre-empt what we are going to say to the Parliament next week but that is exactly the kind of questions we are asking.

“It’s important we understand fully the link between positive cases, hospitalisations, severity of illness, how long are people staying in hospital, are they going then from acute into ICU – these are all the questions we are looking at weeks of data to make sure we’ve got a firm answer before we give you a decision and the public a decision about what the future is.”