Almost 300,000 Scots had Covid last week as cases hit record high

One in 18 people in Scotland had the virus in the week of March 6, according to new figures.

Almost 300,000 people in Scotland are likely to have had coronavirus last week, the equivalent of one in 18, according to the Office for National Statistics.

That represents the highest figure since estimates began in autumn 2020, surpassing the previous record of 297,400 people in the first week of this year.

Scotland has now seen infection levels rise for six weeks in a row.

There were 1663 people in hospital on Thursday with recently confirmed Covid-19, an increase of 27 on the previous day, with 23 people in intensive care, an increase of one, Scottish Government figures published on Friday showed.

That is higher than the Omicron peak of 1571 which was recorded in January this year, with more patients in hospital than at any time since February 8 2021, when the total was 1672.

Scotland has recorded 13,220 new cases in the past 24 hours, though this was down from 14,387 the previous day, which was the highest number of infections since early January.

Nicola Sturgeon has urged Scots to continue with “sensible precautions” against Covid-19, with the number of hospital patients infected with coronavirus at a 13-month high.

The First Minister tweeted a plea for people to keep wearing face masks, warning that “Covid hasn’t gone away”.

She posted a masked emoji and wrote: “Life is much more normal again – thankfully – but this is a reminder that Covid hasn’t gone away.

“Vaccines are protecting most of us from worst impacts of the virus – but many do still end up in hospital. Please continue to take sensible precautions, like wearing a mask.”

Scotland has recorded 22 coronavirus-linked deaths in the last 24 hours, according to latest figures on Friday.

It means the number of people who have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19 has risen to 10,969.

Health secretary Humza Yousaf said the Scottish Government was not considering re-imposing restrictions in a bid to tackle rising infections.

The legal requirement to wear a mask on public transport and in some indoor settings is set to end on March 21.

Yousaf said: “We’re not considering further restrictions, that’s not what we’re considering. But on Tuesday, cabinet, of course, will take a view on the current threat level and what we’ll choose to do in terms of the 21st of March.

“And of course, the First Minister will communicate that to Parliament. But look, things are concerning. we have, as you rightly say, as seen over the last week, an increasing number of Covid cases, hospitalisation of those who have Covid and unfortunately high levels of those who have lost their life and each one of those is a tragedy.

“At the same time, what I would say is we haven’t seen more severity of illness, which is important even with BA.2 – the sublineage of Omicron that we’re seeing as dominant.

“But also, I suppose the point I would make is that if we had these case numbers, this high level of case numbers, before the vaccination programme that really took off last year, we’d be in a far worse position, we’d undoubtedly be under really severe restriction, if not lockdown.

“So the vaccine is a game changer, and that’s my plea to people, if you’ve not been vaccinated with your first, second or booster, please, it’s not too late to get yourself vaccinated, which helps us all.”

So far 4,439,695 people have received their first Covid-19 vaccination, 4,166,614 have received their second dose, and 3,461,076 have received a third dose or booster.