At the beginning of December, a highly infectious new variant triggered more than one in 10 covid infections in Scotland.
Nicola Sturgeon said in a speech to the Scottish Parliament that it was “not unreasonable” to believe that rates of the mutated strain were now much higher, as she indicated that the danger posed by the virus could result in an even tougher lockdown than that implemented when the pandemic broke out in March.
It comes after it was reported that in Scotland there are 18 known cases of variant Covid infection.
Cartoon by Camley: Covid Rundup
Most of the incidents, with some in Lanarkshire, have been found in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde region.
Mutated Covid strain found in two health boards in Scotland
It is assumed that the new form of the virus, which first appeared in Kent in September and is distinguished by an extremely high number of mutations, would be up to 70% more transmissible.
Researchers informing the U.K. This could raise the R count by approximately 0.4 points, but probably as much as 0.93, the government said, resulting in a major acceleration of the disease curve.
The variant can be identified in the molecular code of the virus known as the S-gene dropout by PCR research, searching for a “proxy marker”.
It provides a reasonable approximation of the prevalence of the variant within the overall circulation of the coronavirus, but not exact.
Ms. Sturgeon said, “Technical work continues on the use of S-gene dropout as a marker for the new strain, and it is not certain that every case with this marker is the new variant,” citing a Covid infection survey conducted by the Office of National Statistics based on a random sample of the population in Scotland.
The study, however, shows that about 14 percent of positive cases in Scotland already had this S-gene dropout in the week beginning Dec. 9.
That is compared to just 5% at the end of November.
And the suggestion that the proportion may be higher now is not irrational. Further research is being performed by Public Health Scotland.
Of course, 14 percent is still a much lower number than in England, where 36 percent of cases are thought to account for the current variant, and it will be even higher in London and the South East.’
“However, the very rapid spread in London and the Southeast serves as a warning of what we face here if we don’t take decisive action to suppress the virus,” he said.
“We have a real concern that without significant countermeasures, we could be faced with another period of exponential growth as we go into the new year,” he said.
“That would mean a lot more people getting infected with Covid, and even if this new strain doesn’t cause more severe illness, that would mean a lot more people would have to go to the hospital and intensive care units,” he said.
“And that would put a huge burden on the NHS and lead to a lot more loss of life.”
The health authority areas in which hospital cases are growing the fastest
Ms. Sturgeon pointed out that the prevalence of covid in Scotland has increased in the past two weeks from around 100 to 116 cases per 100,000.
In England, this is about half the prevalence of the virus and about one quarter the rate in Wales.
Ms. Sturgeon noted that “risen slightly” the number of people in hospital and intensive care with Covid had “after a period of quite significant decline.” nationally.
The number of people in hospital with Covid has increased by 71 percent to 151 in Ayrshire and Arran, although there has been an 83 percent increase in the Borders since December 9 to 22 patients.
For three weeks from Boxing Day, Scotland will be plunged into Stage 4 restrictions nationally, ensuring all non-essential shops and companies, including bars, restaurants, hairdressers and gyms, will be forced to close.
The Prime Minister cautioned, however, that even stricter restrictions could be required, adding that proposals for reopening schools to non-online learning would be reviewed from January 18.
Research is underway to explore hypotheses that the current strain spreads among children more quickly than previous variants of the virus.
Currently, however, there is no proof that the current strain is causing more serious illnesses or is immune to covid vaccines.
Ms. Sturgeon said, “As more evidence becomes available about the effect of this new strain, we will consider whether the Stage 4 restrictions need to be further tightened.”
“For the reason of preventing the