Almost 30,000 new coronavirus cases have been provisionally recorded in Scotland over the Christmas weekend, according to the Scottish Government.
A total of 8252 cases were reported on December 25, 11,030 on December 26 and 10,562 on December 27 – the highest daily totals recorded since the start of the pandemic.
The Scottish Government warned that while the figures for each day covers tests recorded over the previous 24-hours, a lag in reporting may mean that the majority of those cases will relate to tests carried out before the Christmas break.
Due to a longer turnaround time for results, the actual number of Covid-19 cases may be higher.
Full catch-up reporting will take place on December 29 and January 5.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “While these figures are provisional, the steep increase in cases we have been expecting is now materialising, and this reflects the significantly increased transmissibility of Omicron.
“We would expect to see case numbers rise further in the days ahead – though it is worth bearing in mind that they are likely to have been even higher but for the compliance of the public with the guidance issued in the run up to Christmas.
“These figures underline how important it is that we don’t underestimate the impact of Omicron – even if the rate of hospitalisation associated with it is much lower than past strains of the virus, case numbers this high will still put an inevitable further strain on NHS.
“This level of infection will also cause a significant and severely disruptive level of sickness absence across the economy and critical services.
“So even though we are all thoroughly fed up with the impact of Covid on our lives, it is really important that over the New Year period we follow guidance to help slow the spread of the virus while we complete the accelerated booster programmes.”
New restrictions came into force on Monday in a bid to slow the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.
Nightclubs have been shuttered and hospitality businesses have returned to table service-only when serving alcohol.
Bars, restaurants and indoor leisure facilities such as gyms, theatres and museums have also been forced to reinstate the one-metre social distancing rule.
The new restrictions come after caps were placed on large events from Sunday.
The First Minister added: “In addition to observing good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings, I am asking everyone to limit contacts as much as possible, to keep any essential indoor gatherings to a maximum of three households, and to get boosted by the bells.
“I know sticking to all of these measures is really hard – especially at this time of year – but there’s no doubt whatsoever it will help keep us safer.”
The latest Scottish Government figures show 73.5% of eligible adults aged 18 and over in Scotland have received their booster or third dose of a coronavirus vaccine.
During a visit to a vaccination centre in Perth on Monday, health secretary Humza Yousaf said: “If you haven’t yet had your Covid booster, there is bound to be a vaccination clinic or drop-in centre near to you.
“Please have a look on the online portal to book an appointment, or check your local NHS board’s social media channels to find out where the vaccine is being offered, so you can join the thousands of others who have been boosted by the bells.
“If you’ve yet to have your first or second dose, it still isn’t too late for that either.
“Our vaccination teams are waiting for you, so please come along. The sooner you have your first dose, the sooner you can then get your second, and then your booster, for the extra protection that gives.”