Omicron Scotland: Three more cases of new covid variant identified in Scotland, says Humza Yousaf
A total of nine cases of the Omicron covid variant have now been identified across Scotland, according to the health secretary.
Speaking to BBC’s Good Morning Scotland, Mr Yousaf said that five cases of Omicron are now in Lanarkshire and four in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
It comes as four cases of the newly-discovered strain were identified in the Lanarkshire area and two were identified in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area on Monday.
There were over 200 positive covid cases in the blue zone during the global event COP26 which happened in Glasgow in November.
However, Mr Yousaf told GMS that there is currently no link to the new covid variant cases in Scotland and the cases identified at COP.
He said: "There is nothing that links these cases back to COP26.
"We’ve gone back to each of the positive cases from COP26 from the blue zone and we’re doing the appropriate sequencing to go back and test each of those.”
Mr Yousaf also added that ‘timings would be off’ to link these cases, however, investigations into this are still ongoing.
The Covid booster programme is to be expanded and speeded up in a bid to tackle the new Omicron variant, following advice confirmed by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) on Monday.
Dates have been brought forward for the booster programme, with six month from second dose and booster now reduced to just three months.
Children aged 12 to 15 will also now be invited for a second jab.
However, there is a concern that the booster programme may be delayed.
Mr Yousaf said: “We have adequate supply including with the most recent JCVI advice but the biggest constraining factor is workforce, we’d have to go from a position of administering around about 500,000 flu and booster vaccines, don’t forget we’re also doing flu vaccines, a week to around about 700,000 a week, that is before yesterday’s advice came in .
“Now with yesterday’s advice we suspect there’s an additional at least 1 million doses added to the eligibility criteria.”
He said authorities are working to ramp up the programme and “accelerate it as quickly as we possibly can”.
Mr Yousaf said that calls to reopen mass vaccination centres do not take account of the “challenges and complexities” of the vaccination programme, and authorities do not want to take NHS staff away from other important duties.
He told the programme: “The NHS is under significant pressure, what we don’t want to do is take people away from really core, important, significant duties – the NHS is already under significant pressure – and get them doing vaccinations.
“We will certainly do what we can. Before JCVI advice came out yesterday, just for the acceleration I spoke about, we’d need an additional 440 whole-time equivalents to help us with that vaccination programme.
“With JCVI advice yesterday that will significantly increase, so we’ll do what we can but of course additional premises are absolutely a part of the plan.”