As Omicron surges through Scotland, questions over the potential for a circuit breaker lockdown have arisen.
On Thursday morning, the new variant accounts for almost two-fifths of Scotland’s total cases, with a further 5,155 infections recorded on Wednesday.
Wednesday was a record breaking day in the UK as the country recorded its highest number of Covid cases to date at 78,610, and the daily infection rate is expected to surpass this total in the coming days.
Here’s what we know about a potential circuit breaker lockdown in Scotland as Omicron takes the UK by storm.
Will Scotland face a circuit breaker lockdown?
On Thursday morning, Deepti Gurdasani, an epidemiologist from the Queen Mary University of London, said that a circuit breaker lockdown was needed to help protect the NHS.
Speaking on Good Morning Scotland, Dr Gurdasani said: “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.”
However, on the same programme, Scottish health secretary Humza Yousaf dismissed calls for an immediate circuit breaker lockdown, saying it was important to strike a balance.
When asked about the prospect of a circuit breaker lockdown, he said: “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.”
What did Nicola Sturgeon announce on Tuesday?
Nicola Sturgeon announced a range of new measures on Tuesday in an effort to curb the spread of the cirus:
- Three households socialising: The first minister urged people to limit socialising to three households, however this is not a legal requirement
- Legal measures for businesses: New legal guidance for retail and hospitality will be introduced in the coming week, including rules on social distancing
- Employers must enable work from home by law: Employers must now allow people to work from home where possible by law