The number of people who tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland increased last week, driven by new Omicron variants, according to the latest figures.
Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that in the week ending June 17, an estimated 250,700 people in private households had the virus – equating to around one in 20.
This is up from around one in 30 people the previous week and is the highest level in the UK.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said rising infection levels are “of concern”, but he highlighted that Scotland has a highly vaccinated population.
Covid levels are continuing to rise in all four nations of the UK, with the increase likely caused by infections of the Omicron variants BA.4 and BA.5.
It is estimated that around one in 45 people in Wales had the virus in the week to June 18, one in 40 in England, and one in 30 in Northern Ireland.
Kara Steel, senior statistician for the ONS Covid-19 Infection Survey, said: “Rates have continued to rise across the UK, with the largest increase seen in Scotland.
“In England, infections increased across all age groups, with the lowest level of infection seen in school-aged children.
“These increases are largely driven by the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 variants. We will continue to closely monitor the data.”
ONS figures for Scotland are given for the week ending June 17, while for England, Wales and Northern Ireland they are for the week ending June 18.
Mr Yousaf tweeted: “While, of course, rising Covid infection levels are of concern, I am pleased we have a highly vaccinated population.
“Our spring booster campaign has been immensely successful with 91% of those over 75 years old and 86% of elderly care home residents receiving their Covid vaccine.
“We can all play our part in keeping ourselves and others safe. Whatever dose you’re eligible for, it’s not too late to get vaccinated. Wear a face covering in indoor spaces and on public transport, keep indoor spaces well ventilated, practice good hygiene measures.”
He also urged people who are unwell with Covid-19 symptoms to follow stay at home guidance.
Separate Public Health Scotland (PHS) data published on Wednesday showed cases of Covid-19 rose by almost a third in Scotland last week.
There were 15,541 cases reported in the week to June 19, PHS said, up 30.5% from 11,909 the previous week.
NHS Lothian said its hospital system is under “extreme pressure”.
Tracey Gillies, medical director of NHS Lothian, said: “The number of hospital inpatients who have tested positive has increased by 50% since a week ago. This presents many logistical issues as they need to be cared for within Covid-19 specific areas.
“On top of that, and in line with community transmission levels, there are increased numbers of staff testing positive with Covid-19, who must then self-isolate to protect patients.
“All of this means services are stretched right across the system, including community and social care services, resulting in high numbers of patients who are medically fit to leave hospital but who cannot be discharged because they need care in place to support them at home.”
Relatives of patients are being urged to help where they can by providing transport home for patients who are medically fit to be discharged, and to consider offering support to help them at home.
Dona Milne, director of public health at NHS Lothian, urged people not to forget all that has been learned about keeping the virus under control and to take sensible precautions.
She said: “Covid-19 has not gone away and cases are continuing to rise across Lothian.
“Our hospital system is under extreme pressure and we need people across Lothian to do their bit to prevent the system becoming overwhelmed.”
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