Coronavirus hospital cases have dropped to their lowest rate since last summer, a health expert said.

Professor Linda Bauld said on Friday that daily hospital cases with the virus had dropped to less than 50, the first time the figure has dropped so low in almost a year.

She also added there were “about 650” people in hospital with the virus, compared to more than 2,000 last month.

“We’ve seen a significant decline in levels of infection in the community,” she told BBC Radio Scotland on Friday.

“The (Office for National Statistics) infection survey will have some results out today that shows another drop.”

She added: “That R number – which nobody is hearing about any more, but is still with us – is well below … it’s between 0.7 and 0.9.”

However, Prof Bauld stressed that the virus had not gone away and the potential for new variants continues.

The Omicron variant, which spread aggressively during the winter, caused a surge in cases.

“We’re not saying that everything’s over because we may see new variants, and we may see surges in infection again, but we do seem to be in a much more stable situation,” she said.

When asked if holidays during the summer could change the Covid-19 landscape in Scotland, Prof Bauld said that travel was “less of a concern than it was”.

On Friday, the ONS infection survey estimated one in 40 people in Scotland had Covid-19 in the week up to May 21, equating to 135,400 people or 2.57% of the population.

The figure rose slightly from the previous week, where one in 45 were estimated to have the virus, the equivalent of 122,200 people or 2.32% of the population.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Government adviser said “the risk to the general public is low” from monkeypox, after it was announced on Thursday that three cases have been recorded in Scotland.