Omicron is now the dominant strain of coronavirus in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon said while warning that a “tsunami” of the variant is hitting the country.
The Prime Minister said 51.4% of Covid-19 cases in Scotland are now likely to be Omicron.
The R number, which measures the rate of infection, could be over four and cases of the virus have increased by more than 40% over the past week, the prime minister said during a coronavirus briefing.
She urged people to stay home as Christmas approaches, saying the emergence of Omicron has been the “cruelest blow”.
“The tsunami that I warned about a week ago is now starting to hit us,” she said.
“However, and this is a key point, a really key point in fact, one should not be fatalistic about this. We are not helpless in the face of this.
The Prime Minister said that “it appears that boosters are still very effective in reducing the risk of getting seriously ill from Omicron.”
She said that the increase in cases is expected to “continue and accelerate”, and stressed the need to slow the spread of the virus, adding: “For now, the scale and the immediacy of the challenge it presents is of deep concern. “
Friday, new guidelines in Scotland have come into force to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.
Businesses across the country are legally required to take “reasonable steps” to minimize the transmission of the virus.
Guidance includes a return to one-way systems at the premises, application-based control and the use of displays at service points.
The hospitality industry has been encouraged to return to table service where possible and to consider measures to reduce overcrowding.
Earlier, Scottish Finance Secretary Kate Forbes said the Scottish government is calling on the UK Treasury to “step up and provide urgent funding” to businesses.
During the coronavirus briefing, Ms Sturgeon said it would be “unreasonable” for the Treasury not to provide more support given the rapid spread of Omicron.
She announced that of the £ 100million allocated by the Scottish Government “for the impact that businesses are already suffering”, £ 66million will go to the hospitality sector, £ 20million to culture, £ 8million to the food and beverage supply chain, and £ 3million each to the wedding and tourism industries.
When asked where she would spend extra money from the treasury, Ms Sturgeon said she wished “to be able to make decisions that I think are appropriate without worrying about not being able to compensate companies.”
Before a call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘There has to be a systems approach to this where we know that, if we are to make tough public health decisions, there is support behind it and it kicks in if it’s Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England making those decisions and not just – as is the case right now – only when the UK government for England makes these decisions. “
Emphasizing that the UK government is able to borrow money rather than taking it from existing budgets, she added: Help protect the economy from the pressures of this situation.
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