There have been mounting pressures on the NHS and services such as retail and hospitality which have been hit by staff shortages due to those testing positive and close contacts having to self isolate, and the Scottish Government has been urged to reduce the self-isolation time to help ease them.
Here are the five key points from the First Minister’s update today explained.
Self-isolation period cut
The Scottish Government has been under pressure to cut the self-isolation period down from ten days to help ease mounting pressures on services which have been hit particularly hard by staff absences due to Covid.
From midnight, there are changes being implemented to the self-isolation period.
For those who test positive for Covid, the initial advice will still be to self-isolate for ten days, however there will now be an option to end isolation after seven days as long as you, firstly, have no fever and, secondly, you record two negative lateral flow tests, one no earlier than day six after testing positive and another at least 24 hours later.
For close contacts of positive cases who are fully vaccinated, the requirement to self-isolate will end and be replaced by a requirement to take a lateral flow test every day for seven days.
Anyone identified as a close contact who is over 18 years and four months and not fully vaccinated will still be asked to self-isolate for 10 days and take a PCR test.
Self-isolation changes explained:
– Positive cases can end self-iso after 7 days if negative LFT on day 6 and 7.
– no isolation requirement for whole household of positive person if over 18s fully vaccinated and daily LFTs are neg
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Restrictions extended for a week
Restrictions which have been implemented since Boxing Day and December 27 are to remain in place until at least January 17 as the Omicron variant surges.
Currently, there are restrictions on the number of people who can attend large gatherings such as concerts and football matches.
There is also a requirement for distancing between groups in public indoor places such as retail and for table service in hospitality venues serving alcohol.
Although not a legal requirement, the Scottish Government are continuing to urge that people limit their contact with people in other households as far as possible, and limit the number of households in indoor gatherings to a maximum of three.
No further restrictions
No further covid restrictions will be implemented at this time, the First Minister said in today’s update.
Addressing the virtual sitting of parliament she said: “We are not proposing any additional measures at this stage, I will confirm that existing protections and guidance will remain in place for the coming week, pending further review.”
In the latest data released by the Scottish Government, 16,103 positive cases were reported yesterday – which is 26.9% of all tests carried out.
There are 71 more people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid than yesterday, bringing the total to 1,223. The figure is 544 more than this time last week.
There are currently 42 people in intensive care which is the same amount as yesterday.
A further five deaths have been reported, taking the total number of deaths under the daily definition to 9,872.
Ms Sturgeon reiterated that the NHS was currently under extreme pressure for three reasons being dealing with non-Covid backlogs, absent staff due to self isolation and the volume of cases resulting in hospitalisations.
While ICU numbers are so far remaining stable, the number of people in hospital has risen ‘quite sharply’.
The First Minister said: “The number of people in hospital with Covid has increased from 679 to 1,223 in the last week. That’s a rise of 80%. That is putting significant additional pressure on the NHS.”
Analysis is underway to understand the details behind hospital numbers – first to differentiate those who are in hospital because of Covid from those in hospital with Covid but who were admitted for different reasons.
Initial results will be published by the Scottish Government on Friday.
Work is also being done to assess whether the average length of hospital stay resulting from Omicron is any different to that associated with other variants.