Covid Scotland: Christmas hotpots predicted by Imperial College London map

An online Covid calculator has identified Scotland’s local authorities at high risk of being a virus super-hotspot over Christmas.

Devised by Imperial College London, the website predicts which parts of the country have the greatest probability of seeing cases rise above 100 per 100,000, which it classes as a ‘hotspot’ on December 25.

Using that definition, all areas except Na h-Eileanan Siar and the Orkney and Shetland Islands are deemed at a risk of more than 95% – with cases soaring amid rising concerns over the Omicron variant.

However, the tool is also used to predict even greater hotspots – areas in which there is a probability of reaching more than 500 cases per week.

HeraldScotland: Almost everywhere in Scotland is to be a 'hotspot' over Christmas with more than 100 cases per weekAlmost everywhere in Scotland is to be a ‘hotspot’ over Christmas with more than 100 cases per week

West Lothian was deemed to be the most likely in the country to become a super hotspot between December 19 and Christmas Day, sitting at a 98% probability of reaching more than 500 cases that week.

Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire sit slightly behind at 95%, with South Lanarkshire at 94%.

HeraldScotland: Areas predicted to have more than 500 cases per weekAreas predicted to have more than 500 cases per week

According to the website, which can be viewed here, North Lanarkshire is next on the list (87%), followed by West Dunbartonshire (86%), Midlothian (84%) and East Ayrshire (83%).

The website uses data on daily reported cases and weekly reported deaths and mathematics modelling to report a probability that a local authority will become a hotspot in the following week.

Probability of more than 500 cases per week, per area:

  • Aberdeen City – 38%
  • Aberdeenshire – 31%
  • Angus – 5%
  • Argyll and Bute – 24%
  • Clackmannanshire – 35%
  • Na h-Eileanan Siar – 7%
  • Dumfries and Galloway – 11%
  • Dundee City – 15%
  • East Ayrshire – 83%
  • East Dunbartonshire – 81%
  • East Lothian – 64%
  • East Renfrewshire – 95%
  • Edinburgh City – 76%
  • Falkirk – 78%
  • Fife – 54%
  • Glasgow City – 74%
  • Highland – 23%
  • Inverclyde – 51%
  • Midlothian – 84%
  • Moray – 54%
  • North Ayrshire – 95%
  • North Lanarkshire – 87%
  • Orkney – 0%
  • Perth and Kinross – 58%
  • Renfrewshire – 95%
  • Scottish Borders – 7%
  • Shetland Islands – 0%
  • South Ayrshire – 68%
  • South Lanarkshire – 94%
  • Stirling – 65%
  • West Dunbartonshire – 86%
  • West Lothian – 98%

It comes as Health Secretary Humza Yousaf dismissed calls for an immediate circuit-breaker to curb the spread of Omicron.

Mr Yousaf said the Scottish Government needs to “balance” the various harms” that could result from tougher restrictions.

His comments came as he warned that even the “best case scenario could be extremely challenging” for the NHS this winter.

He told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme that following the arrival of the Omicron strain of coronavirus in Scotland, there had been a “really worrying rise in cases”.

Mr Yousaf said: “This variant is the fastest, most transmissible variant we have seen during the pandemic.

“Even the best case scenario could be extremely challenging if we don’t take measures to protect ourselves, that’s why the First Minister made her announcement on Tuesday, asking people to minimise their social contacts as best they can, given the high transmissibility of the virus.”

Nicola Sturgeon has urged people to reduce their social contacts over the Christmas period, limiting gatherings to three households or fewer.

Shops and other businesses are being told to introduce further measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.

But Mr Yousaf dismissed the idea of a circuit-breaker lockdown, saying: “We have to always balance the harms, that is why we haven’t imposed more restrictions perhaps than we are doing at the moment, because we understand 20 months into this people’s mental health is suffering, the economy is suffering, people’s wellbeing is suffering, there has been educational disruptions.

“Of course as a Government there are other measures we could take that could limit social mixing, but they would come at harm and at a cost.

“The Government’s job is to balance those various harms and I think that is the balance we have got right.”

Scotland has recorded 265 new cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant in the past 24 hours, taking the overall number to 561, the latest figures show.

The statistics published by the Scottish Government record 5,155 coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours and 22 deaths, taking the total number of deaths to 9,746.

However, statistics also published on Wednesday by the National Records of Scotland – which include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19 – suggest a total of 12,303 people have died with the virus.

To view the Imperial College London hotspot projection map, visit here.

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