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Nicola Sturgeon to host covid briefing as omicron variant found in Scotland

Nicola Sturgeon is to make a statement on covid today after six cases of the new omicron variant were identified in Scotland.

Four were found in Lanarkshire while another two identified in the Greater Glasgow health board area.

Public Health Scotland are currently undertaking extensive contact tracing to establish the origin of the variant and any individuals who may have come in contact with it.

Sturgeon will host a media conference at 10.30am alongside Dr Gregor Smith, the chief medical officer, where she will answer questions on efforts to curb the spread of omicron.

The First Minister said on social media: “I will give an update on the current situation in Scotland, what we know about Omicron so far, and what we can all do to help contain spread in a covid briefing with Dr Gregor Smith at 10.30am.

The first cases of omicron in Scotland were announced at 7.53am today.

Political leaders around the world currently face an anxious wait while scientists analyse the new variant.

It is not yet known the level of threat it poses.

In a statement, health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “This will be a worrying time for the six people now identified as having the new variant. All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases.

“This will help establish the origin of the virus and any further individuals they have come into contact with in recent weeks.

“There is still much to learn about the Omicron variant.

“Questions remain about its severity, transmissibility and response to treatments or vaccines and scientists are working at pace to provide additional information. Until more is known we must be cautious and do everything we can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.

Yousaf added: “We have already taken steps and are aligning with the new border restrictions being introduced by the UK Government which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-isolate until a negative result is received.

“These measures will be introduced as soon as possible and kept under constant review. However, we reserve the right to go further if necessary. We are also adopting the expanded red list of countries identified by the UK Government. This will also be kept under review.

“We must now redouble our efforts to follow the basic rules that have served us well throughout the pandemic – wear a face covering on public transport and in all indoor settings for food and retail; open windows especially if you have people visiting at home; keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.

“Work from home where possible, take regular lateral flow tests – especially before mixing with others outside your household.”

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