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Nicola Sturgeon backs tougher travel restrictions over omicron covid variant


Nicola Sturgeon has called for tougher travel restrictions to be put in place as concerns grow over the new Omicron covid variant.

The First Minister wants people coming to the UK from overseas to self-isolate for eight days in a bid to control a mutation which originated in Southern Africa.

She also called for the measures to be rolled out on a four nations basis.

The Scottish Government confirmed this morning that six cases of Omicron had been identified in Scotland, with four in Lanarkshire and two in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

At the weekend, it was agreed that passengers arriving in the UK from 4am on Tuesday will be required to take a PCR test by the end of their second day from entry and isolate until they receive a negative test.

Ten southern African nations have also been added to the red travel list.

At an hastily convened covid summit, Sturgeon said she and Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford are calling for the international travel rules to be tightened further.

Sturgeon, who urged “collective national vigilance”, said: “We know however that the incubation period for this virus is very often more than two days. So our view is that it would be sensible on a precautionary basis for these travel rules to be tightened further – that’s a view shared by the Welsh Government.

“I had a call yesterday with First Minister Mark Drakeford. And he and I have written this morning a joint letter to the Prime Minister. We’re proposing a tougher four nations approach to travel restrictions at this stage that would see people arriving in the UK from overseas asked to self isolate for 8 days.”

She added: “Under our proposal they would take a PCR test on day 8 of their arrival as well as on day two. We believe this measure would be more effective in identifying cases of this variant, which result from overseas travel and therefore help us prevent further community transmission from imported cases.”

Sturgeon also backed a four nations approach and said: “Mark Drakeford and I have also called on the Prime Minister today to immediately convene a COBRA meeting.”

She said more broadly: “What we do know at this stage confirms in my view that we should treat it seriously and that we should continue to act on a precautionary basis at this stage.

“While we all hope that the emerging understanding of it will reduce rather than increase our level of concern, there is no doubt that this presents potentially the most challenging development in the course of the pandemic for quite some time.”

The First Minister also said she is not aware of any of the people who have tested positive for Omicron in Scotland being in hospital.

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