NICOLA Sturgeon will tomorrow give a key update on coronavirus restrictions in Scotland after the country recorded record-high virus cases.

The Scottish Government yesterday revealed a breakdown of recorded cases over the festive period - totalling nearly 30,000.

The provisional numbers:

  • 8,252 cases were recorded on December 25
  • 11,030 cases were recorded on December 26
  • 10,562 cases were recorded on December 27

There is a caveat, however, that a lag in reporting means several cases will relate to tests done before the Christmas break.

Speaking as the figures were announced, the First Minister warned that case numbers will likely rise further as she warned of "inevitable further strain" on the NHS.

She said: "While these figures are provisional, the steep increase in cases we have been expecting is now materialising, and this reflects the significantly increased transmissibility of Omicron.

"We would expect to see case numbers rise further in the days ahead - though it is worth bearing in mind that they are likely to have been even higher but for the compliance of the public with the guidance issued in the run up to Christmas. 

“These figures underline how important it is that we don’t underestimate the impact of Omicron - even if the rate of hospitalisation associated with it is much lower than past strains of the virus, case numbers this high will still put an inevitable further strain on NHS."

She added: "This level of infection will also cause a significant and severely disruptive level of sickness absence across the economy and critical services. 

“So even though we are all thoroughly fed up with the impact of Covid on our lives, it is really important that over the new year period we follow guidance to help slow the spread of the virus while we complete the accelerated booster programmes.

"In addition to observing good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings, I am asking everyone to limit contacts as much as possible, to keep any essential indoor gatherings to a maximum of three households, and to get boosted by the bells. 

“I know sticking to all of these measures is really hard – especially at this time of year - but there’s no doubt whatsoever it will help keep us safer.”

When is Nicola Sturgeon’s next Covid update?

Following agreement at last week’s Parliamentary Bureau, Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone confirmed Holyrood will be asked to agree to sit on December 29 and potentially on January 5 for updates on Covid and for MSPs to ask questions of the First Minister.

It is not yet known whether tighter restrictions will be considered by the First Minister and her Cabinet when MSPs convene on Wednesday.

Nicola Sturgeon to give Covid update as Scotland cases hit record high

Multiple sources had told The Herald on Sunday that the First Minister wanted Holyrood to discuss bringing in new measures to help combat the spread of the dominant Omicron variant of the virus.

At the time, the First Minister denied she had any current plans to carry out a recall of parliament. However, two independent sources confirmed to the Herald on Sunday that it was being actively discussed and considered – before later being confirmed by the Presiding Officer.

What are the new Covid restrictions in Scotland?

It comes as temporary measures to limit the spread of Omicron came into force.

From 5am on Boxing Day, attendance at large events was limited to 100 people for indoor standing events, 200 for indoor seating events and 500 to all outdoor events.

From 5am on December 27, one metre physical distancing has been reinstated in all hospitality and indoor leisure settings including pubs, restaurants, gyms, theatres and museums amongst others. Table service is also required in settings where alcohol is served for consumption on the premises.

Nightclubs are also to close for at least three weeks.

When will Scotland's Covid restrictions be reviewed?

All of the temporary measures introdued in recent days are to be reviewed after three weeks on Tuesday, January 11.

What is happening in England?

The Scottish Government has been accused of being "out of step" and "overly cautious" as it was confirmed there would be no new virus restirctions in England before the New Year.

UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said “people should remain cautious” and urged those marking the start of 2022 to consider testing themselves beforehand and to celebrate outside, with the Omicron variant growing so fast that it now accounts for 90 per cent of all new Covid-19 cases.

The decision not to impose restrictions beyond the Plan B measures already in place in England comes after Prime Minister Boris Johnson was briefed on the impact Christmas mixing had had on coronavirus infections and hospital admissions.

England is currently under the UK Government’s Plan B rulebook, with guidance to work from home, mask-wearing in shops and other public settings, and Covid passes to gain entry to large events.