The Omicron wave is beginning to slow, Humza Yousaf has indicated, as he suggested that the country is turning the corner on the virus.
It comes ahead of an easing of Covid restrictions on Monday, with the 500 capacity limit on outdoor crowds set to be lifted.
However, the health secretary warned that a cautious approach has to continue as he highlighted the extreme pressure on the health service
Yousaf made the comments as he opened a new NHS 24 call centre in Dundee which is aimed to help more patients in non-life-threatening cases.
Speaking to STV News, he said: “I asked my clinical advisers just yesterday, ‘have we passed the peak of Omicron?’
“And interestingly, their answer to me was, what we can say with certainty, and a degree of certainty, is that the Omicron wave is beginning to decelerate.
“So, we’re still seeing increases in hospital admissions with Covid, but they’re definitely slowing down.
“The numbers of daily cases… there’s a bit of instability with the data because of course we had that new case definition, as you know, so the data needs a few more days to catch.
“But certainly, the evidence seems to suggest that we are turning that corner, but still in a time of extreme pressure, extreme pressure for our health service, and that’s why the cautious approach has to continue.”
Yousaf also urged people to get vaccinated and pledged that no-one will be judged if they have not yet had their first or second doses.
“We obviously all had the big push for being boosted by the bells and I think due to that, we’re now at a position where we’ve boosted around about 80%, or just over 80% of the eligible population,” he said.
“So, we’re now dealing with a portion of the population that… is far smaller, so the efforts need to continue.
“I suppose my message is a really simple one – the supply is there, the vaccinators are there, the drop in clinics and the vaccination centres are there, so if you are eligible, please get yourself boosted.
“And if you’ve not had your first or second dose, nobody’s going to judge you – get your first and second dose, because again, there’s plenty of capacity there for you.”