Fans gathering indoors to watch Euro 2020 have been blamed for a surging Covid-19 gender gap after case numbers in Scotland reached record levels.

Figures released yesterday showed 2,969 cases were confirmed in the past 24 hours, eclipsing the 2,649 cases recorded during the peak of the winter second wave.

In recent days about two thirds of cases among people aged 15 to 44 have been men. The unprecedented spike has coincided with the Euros football tournament, with Glasgow hosting matches as well as an outdoor fanzone for up to 6,000 supporters a day.

Moscow has closed down its football fanzone after Russia, which is hosting matches, saw a 30 per cent increase in cases in the past week.

HeraldScotland:

Scotland supporters at the Fan Zone in Glasgow 

Since June 21, 918 men in Scotland have had positive tests compared with 426 women in the 25 to 44 age range.

For those in their early twenties the divergence is even more pronounced, with 765 men and 240 women.

Professor Stephen Reicher, an expert on behavioural psychology at the University of St Andrews, believes it is linked to men gathering indoors to watch games.

READ MORE: Almost 3,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours 

He told The Times : “A few weeks ago it was about 50:50. Men and women got infected at the same rate,” he told BBC Radio Scotland. “Yesterday the data showed that young men — under 45 — were about three times more likely to get infected.

“We can’t be sure why that is, but the obvious explanation is that people were getting together for the football and not taking precautions.”

Allyson Pollock, public health expert and director of the Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science, said multiple factors could be involved, including men testing themselves before attending football events.

The number of cases has risen by almost 40 per cent since Monday. Five deaths were also recorded yesterday, the highest daily total since April.

However, the number of people in hospital with Covid fell by one to 171, while the number in intensive care remained unchanged at 18 — a fraction of what it was during the winter peak.

HeraldScotland:

Scotland fans celebrate 

Nicola Sturgeon warned that the surge could still put “huge pressure” on the NHS. Writing on Twitter she said if restrictions were to end on August 9 “we should take this increase seriously”.

READ MORE: Weekly deaths linked to the virus return to double figures

The first minister said vaccines were breaking the link between illness and death and “around 5 per cent of cases are admitted to hospital now” — but added that “5 per cent of a large number of cases will still put huge pressure on NHS and cause suffering and loss”.

Professor Devi Sridhar, an adviser on Covid to the Scottish government, added: “Obviously caution is needed but the most important marker is whether the link between cases and moderate to severe disease is being broken.

“This is a different wave than previous ones. We are in new territory.”