Six cases of the Covid-19 Omicron variant have been identified in Scotland, the Scottish government has announced.
Four cases are in the Lanarkshire area and two have been identified in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.
Scottish Deputy Premier John Swinney said some of the identified cases had no travel history, suggesting there is some degree of community transmission.
Public Health Scotland and local health protection teams are working together and ‘improved’ contact tracing is being undertaken to establish the origin of the virus and all the people who have been in contact with in recent weeks.
All close contacts of suspected cases of Omicron will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “It will be a worrying time for the six people now identified as having the new variant. All will receive expert help and support and Public Health Scotland will undertake enhanced contact tracing in all cases.
“This will help establish the origin of the virus and anyone else they have been in contact with in the past few weeks.
“There is still a lot to learn about the Omicron variant. Questions remain about its severity, transmissibility and response to treatments or vaccines and scientists are working at a steady pace to provide additional information.
“Until we know more, we need to be careful and do everything possible to minimize the risk of the infection spreading.”
Mr Swinney said there is a travel history in some cases, but not all, which opens “new challenges”.
He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We obviously have a travel history on some cases, I don’t have all of those details available to me at this point, but on some cases we know there is no travel history involved on some of the cases.
“So what this tells us is that there has to be a degree of community transmission of this particular strain of the virus in the absence of a direct connection for some of the cases in the southern African region.
“This obviously opens up new challenges for us in terms of interrupting the spread of this particular strain of the virus and this will be the subject of the contact tracing operation which is already underway.”
The first two UK cases – in Nottingham and Essex – were announced on Saturday, while a third Omicron case was detected in the UK on Sunday in a person with travel links to southern Africa.
Britain will call an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss the variant first detected in South Africa, fearing it could spread quickly and partially escape existing jabs.
Passengers arriving in the UK from 4 a.m. on Tuesday will be required to take a PCR test before the end of their second day after entering and self-isolate until they test negative, while 10 Southern African countries have been added to the travel red list.
Yousaf said: “We have already taken action and are aligning with the new border restrictions introduced by the UK government, which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-regulate. -isolate until a negative result is obtained. has received.
“These measures will be introduced as soon as possible and will be constantly reviewed. However, we reserve the right to go further if necessary.
“We are also adopting the extended red list of countries identified by the UK government. This will also be subject to review. “
He urged people to redouble their efforts to follow basic rules such as wearing masks and washing hands and getting vaccinated, including its booster, if eligible.