A PUBLIC health expert has warned that a circuit breaker lockdown is needed in Scotland to combat the spreading Omicron coronavirus variant.
On Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon told Scots gatherings should be limited to no more than three households, with this advice coming after people were told to cancel work Christmas parties.
She said legal restrictions for businesses will be introduced, including “a return to the kind of protections in place at the start of the pandemic” to avoid crowding, such as physical distancing, while enabling staff to work from home where possible will again become a legal duty.
However, Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist from the Queen Mary University of London, has warned that drastic measures need to be taken to avoid the new variant overrunning the NHS.
She told the BBC Good Morning Scotland programme: “Given the sheer scale of the crisis that actually even more scientists cannot imagine, I would be putting in a circuit breaker now.
“I know I’m going to be unpopular for saying this and I don’t think it was inevitable before.
“But the fact is we’ve gone into an Omicron wave where 50,000 cases a day, no capacity in our healthcare system, and I’m seriously concerned that in the next few weeks people who need life saving emergency care won’t be able to get it by January.
“We really, really cannot afford to be in that situation.
“So I know it’s unpopular, but I think that’s what we need to do and support the public through where people are going to be impacted financially.”
Pushed if a circuit breaker meant businesses closing and people staying at home, she replied: “Yes, I know I’m going to be attacked for saying this but I do think the nature of the crisis means that we need something like that now.”
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.