Scots ‘strongly urged’ to defer Christmas parties after Omicron outbreaks

Public Health Scotland says party plans should be postponed as country’s Omicron tally rises to 109

Scotland’s national public health body is “strongly urging” people to cancel Christmas parties after a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to festive get-togethers.

Dr Nick Phin, the director of public health science and medical director at Public Health Scotland (PHS), said: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible. The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.

“We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now. To help minimise the further spread of Covid-19, and Omicron in particular, I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time.”

Scotland recorded 3,196 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, and one case of the new variant, taking the total to 109.

Almost half of all confirmed cases of Omicron in Scotland have been in the 20-39 age group, according to PHS figures released on Wednesday. Officials said they were not aware of any hospitalisations relating to the new variant.

The agency’s weekly report said: “The somewhat younger age profile of the confirmed Omicron cases reflects the early detection of a large number of cases in events that typically attract people in these age groups.” One of the clusters in the central belt emerged around a Steps concert held at the Glasgow Hydro.

At her regular Covid briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon underlined the rate of increase of the Omicron variant, telling the Scottish public: “It is time for all of us to go back to basics.”

Underlining the significance of this speed of increase, the first minister said: “The sheer weight of numbers of people who could be infected as a result of increased transmissibility and some immune evasion will create this pressure even if the disease the new variant causes in individuals is no more severe than Delta.”

Sturgeon urged employers to ensure that all staff who could work from home would do so until at least the middle of January, and said people should do a lateral flow test “on every occasion” they intend to mix with others over the festive season, whether at work, socialising or going shopping.


Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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