Scotland’s national clinical director has urged caution over thinking the pandemic is in its final stages.
Asked if we are in the “endgame”, Professor Jason Leitch said: “I think we’re in the endgame of Omicron. I’m afraid that’s not the answer you wanted.”
His comments come a day after the First Minister announced the lifting of restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the Omicron variant.
Nicola Sturgeon said more recent figures, showing a fall in infections, “gives us confidence that we have turned the corner on the Omicron wave”.
However on Wednesday morning, Prof Leitch described thinking Scotland is seeing the end of the overall pandemic as “hope rather than reality”.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “Nobody knows if we’re in the endgame of the whole pandemic. And anybody who does, I’m afraid it’s hope rather than reality.
“I hope we’re in the endgame, and the WHO are telling us still to be cautious – don’t drop your guard for surveillance of other variants that might come into your country or you might generate yourself.
“But we’re definitely in a downward slope of Omicron, which is terrific news.”
Prof Leitch also added that he thinks the easing of restrictions should be gradual.
He said: “We’ve learned that closing fast or restricting fast serves you well.
“So, on the way into protections, it’s often better to go earlier than you think and harder than you think.
“On the way out the opposite, I’m afraid, is true. You should go slightly slower than you would hope to go and slightly more gradual.”
Prof Leitch said people across the country are still being asked to be careful.
He added: “So, we still want them to do the lateral flow tests before they leave home to meet other people, still get vaccinated, still wash your hands.
“All of those things still apply, but we’re hopeful that this can be a smooth and continuous removal of protections.”