HEALTH officials have published data suggesting there were 389 “confirmed or possible cases” of the worrying Omicron Covid variant as of Saturday.

Yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon told MSPs that there were now 99 confirmed cases of the strain in Scotland and today's daily figures took the total confirmed Omicron cases to 108.

A report published today by Public Health Scotland has suggested that as of December 5, there were 71 confirmed, 9 highly probable and 309 possible Omicron variant cases north of the border, making up “a total of 389 confirmed or possible cases”.

The Herald: Public Health Scotland Omicron casesPublic Health Scotland Omicron cases

The serach also found that 48% of Omicron cases were in people aged 20-39, well above the 25% of all Covid cases in that age group.

It said the “somewhat younger age profile” of the Omicron cases reflects the “early detection of a large number of cases in events that typically attract people in these age groups”.

Confirmed cases are defined as Omicron being identified by sequencing on genotyping, highly probable cases include a positive PCR test plus a travel history from a red list country “with specimen dates from November 1 confirmed by case interview” or being a positive contact of a confirmed Omicron case.

Possible cases, which remain under investigation, include a positive PCR test plus S gene target failure and dating from November 1.

The weekly study by Public Health Scotland warns that “the impacts of this new variant could lead to a further surge in cases, even amongst the vaccinated or recently infection population”, but adds that “increased severity of disease has not yet been documented”.

The document states that “S gene target failures”, which indicates the possibility of an Omicon variant, “have increased as a proportion of newly daily reported cases, from 0.1% on November 23 to 3.1% on December 6”. Yesterday, the First Minister said the variant was now responsible for 4% of cases in Scotland.

READ MORE: Sturgeon: Restrictions to be reviewed daily amid 'concerning' 10-fold rise in Omicron cases

It adds that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 “currently represents a very small, but rapidly growing, proportion of all cases in Scotland”.

The Public Health Scotland study has found that “confirmed Omicron cases were relatively younger than all cases”, with 48% of confirmed infections of the new variant in the 20 to 29 age group, compared to 25% of all Covid cases.

Speaking in Holyrood, Deputy First Minister John Swinney, said: “Our response to the new variant will develop as we learn more about the risk it poses and as we find out more about its spread within Scotland.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation and be guided by the latest science and clinical advice.

“We will continue to do all we can to make sure people in Scotland are offered the greatest possible protection through vaccination as quickly as we can.”