Scottish health watchdog urges public to cancel Christmas parties

Public Health Scotland is concerned about the number of Covid-19 outbreaks linked to festive gatherings.

Scottish health watchdog urges public to cancel Christmas parties iStock

People are being urged to defer Christmas parties this year due to the number of Covid-19 outbreaks linked to such events.

Public Health Scotland said there was particular concern about the number of Omicron cases associated with Christmas gatherings.

The new guidance comes just days after health secretary Humza Yousaf said people across Scotland should continue with their Christmas plans but “make them safer”.

Scotland recorded 16 coronavirus deaths and 3196 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to the latest figures.

One case of the new Omicron variant of coronavirus was also recorded, taking the total to 109.

Dr Nick Phin, director of Public Health Science and Medical Director, PHS explains: “There is much that we still need to learn about Omicron, but early evidence suggests that this new Covid variant is much more transmissible.

“The impact of this transmissibility has been seen in recent weeks, with a number of Omicron outbreaks linked to parties.

“We still need to learn more about the severity of disease caused by Omicron and the effectiveness of vaccines, but there are important things that we can do to help protect ourselves and our families now.

“To help minimise the further spread of Covid-19, and Omicron in particular, I would strongly urge people to defer their Christmas parties to another time.

“I appreciate that everyone is keen to celebrate this festive season, particularly after the pressures of the last twenty months, but by postponing some plans we can all do our bit to protect ourselves and our loved ones.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Wednesday urged the public to follow government coronavirus advice “even if you feel angry with a politician just now”.

Her plea came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is coming under increasing pressure over an alleged party held at Downing Street last Christmas as the country was under strict lockdown rules.

Just minutes after Johnson’s announcement, Sturgeon tweeted: “All these protections are already in place in Scotland and have helped us get Delta cases down.

“Tough question we all face in period ahead is whether these protections will be strong enough against a rapidly spreading Omicron variant.”

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