According to the latest infection survey, nearly four in 10 coronavirus infections in Scotland are now caused by a new, faster-spreading variant.
This comes at a time when, at one minute past midnight tomorrow, mainland Scotland is planning to impose level four restrictions in order to avoid a rise in covid incidents.
Both non-essential shops and businesses will be closed for at least three weeks, as will bars, restaurants and leisure facilities.
In the meantime, as part of an inquiry into an outbreak of cases in Wigtownshire, NHS Dumfries and Galloway announced “very worrying news” that the variant was found in the area.
Previously, cases were mainly found in the area of Greater Glasgow and Clyde, with some in Lanarkshire.
Percentage consistent with the UK variant strain of positive coronavirus samples (ONS Infection Survey).
A random population sample performed by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that between December 14 and 18, 38 percent of people in Scotland who tested positive for the virus had markers consistent with the current UK strain, which is assumed to be around 70 percent transmissible.
This is up from 14% previously, compared to 68% in London, 49% in England overall, and 11% in Wales.
In Scotland, one in 10 Covid cases was related to the mutant strain in early December
The UK-wide ONS survey is focused on nasal and throat swabs obtained from thousands of symptomatic or non-symptomatic households.
The ONS reports that, based on samples taken between 12 and 18 December, one in 140 people in Scotland was infected with the coronavirus.
The ONS Infection Survey estimates the proportion of the population infected with coronavirus in Scotland (overall – not just the variant strain).
This is down from one in 100 the previous week, but the outcome is at odds with data from Public Health Scotland showing a steady rise in positive tests, from a 7-day average of 774 on December 4 to 998 by December 22.
On Christmas Eve, according to the Scottish government, 1,165 new cases were registered.
Because of the holidays, the next official report for deaths, hospitalizations, or ICU cases will not be published until December 29.
In Scotland, the number of positive cases (based largely on people with symptoms) increased in December (Public Health Scotland)
In England, the ONS reports that one in 85 individuals was infected with coronavirus, while one in 180 individuals in Northern Ireland had the lowest incidence of infection, and one in 60 individuals in Wales.
In London and the southeast of England, the British variant, which is a highly mutated strain thought to have first appeared in a patient in Kent in September, has been blamed for a drastic rise in cases.
18 confirmed cases of a new variant in Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire
In an attempt to stem the growing tide of infections that tend to occur predominantly in younger age groups, household mixing has been prohibited across the country, including on Christmas Day.
Further alarm came when it was revealed on Dec. 23 that two instances of a second South African variant were found in London and the north of England – considered to be much more infectious than the British strain.
Both individuals have been quarantined, and anybody who has been visiting South Africa for the past two weeks — or has had near contact with someone they have — must be isolated.
After the first case of the British variant – known as VUI 202012/01, or B.1.1.7 – was discovered in the Annandale district, health officials in Dumfries and Galloway have urged caution.
In the event of a surge in Covid incidents, Borders General suspends operations until February.
Valerie White, interim public health director at NHS Dumfries and Galloway, said, “The presence of the new strain was identified after further work by Public Health Scotland, which is conducting additional investigations into cases of coronavirus infection throughout Scotland.”
In the Lower Annandale field, another second case of the new strain has been found.
“This is obviously very worrying news and comes as we are closely monitoring the situation nationwide in relation to this new B.1.1.7 strain.”
Ms. White said the public teams