Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned of a “potential tsunami of infections” in the face of the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
She said the virulent new strain will “run riot” through the population as she cautioned the reproduction or R number could rise above 2.
Giving a news update, Ms Sturgeon said: “The fact is that we do face a renewed and a very severe challenge in the face of the new Omicron variant.
“To be blunt because of the much greater and faster transmissibility of this new variant we may be facing, indeed we may be starting to experience a potential tsunami of infections.”
She added: “This a variant that is and is going to – forgive the non-technical language – run riot through not just the Scottish population.”
Omicron is likely to become the dominant variant of Covid-19 in Scotland in “days, not weeks”, said Ms Sturgeon.
She said: “Omicron right now is rising exponentially, indeed what we are seeing in the data just now is perhaps the fastest exponential growth that we have seen in this pandemic so far.”
She added: “If that continues, and we have no reason, at this stage, to believe that it won’t, Omicron is going to very quickly overtake Delta as the dominant strain in Scotland.
“Indeed, I think we can now say with some confidence that we expect it to overtake Delta within days, not weeks – we estimate this could be as early as the very beginning of next week.
She stressed that, although evidence suggested the variant could evade evade some immunity provided by vaccines, people should still get jabbed.
She said: “Based on preliminary laboratory trials, the best evidence suggests it can evade to some extent the immunity conferred by vaccination.
“Now, and I want to triple underline this point, that does not mean that the vaccines will not significantly help us – being less effective is not the same, nowhere near the same as vaccines being ineffective and booster doses in particular will help retain a higher level of vaccine efficiency.”