Three cases of the Brazil variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Scotland.
Following a return to north-east Scotland from Brazil, three Scottish residents tested positive for the new strain of coronavirus.
All three have been self-isolating since their return to Scotland.
The tests were completed in early February and passed to the UK’s advanced sequencing capabilities programme – which detected this new variant.
Due to the potential concerns around this variant, other passengers on the flight used by the three individuals from London to Aberdeen are being contacted.
These three cases are not connected to three cases also identified in England.
Health protection teams, including local clinicians, have assessed each case and their contacts and are arranging protective measures for this small number of potentially exposed individuals.
To provide an extra layer of safety, teams are ensuring people who could have been infected by these first line contacts are also isolated and tested.
This is to ensure all possible precautions are taken as experts learn more about this particular variant.
Clinical and trial data continues to be assessed to examine how the new variant may respond to current Covid-19 vaccines.
Health secretary Jeane Freeman said: “The identification of this new variant is a concern but we are taking every possible precaution.
“We have identified these cases thanks to our use of advanced sequencing capabilities which means we are finding more variants and mutations than many other countries and are therefore able to take action quickly.
“This new variant demonstrates how serious Covid is and reinforces the need to minimise the spread of the virus.
“We would encourage everyone across the country to adhere to the necessary public health restrictions by staying at home except for essential purposes as this is the single best way of staying safe and stopping the spread of this virus.
“It is now also illegal for anyone to travel to or from Scotland unless it is for an essential reason.
“The Covid vaccination programme is one of three key ways we are working to beat this virus, along with our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission, and the important lockdown restrictions everyone in Scotland must follow.
“These three strands – following expert advice and guidance to suppress the virus, using our expanded testing programme to identify cases and break chains of transmission and rolling out vaccination as fast as supplies allow – are the three critical actions that will see us move, step by step, to protect the public, save lives and a brighter year ahead.”
NHS Grampian said the cases were confirmed as the variant VOC 202101/02 (P.1, Manaus) on Saturday, adding that the three people affected all isolated together at managed accommodation arranged by their employer.
The health board said in a statement: “The majority of people in Grampian should be reassured that they will not be directly affected by these cases.
“However, it must be remembered that Covid-19, no matter which variant it is, spreads in the same way.
“Everyone must continue to observe the current restrictions and follow the FACTS guidance to reduce their risk of being infected with any strain of Covid-19.”