Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, has said travel restrictions may need to be tightened due to concerns over the new omicron Covid-19 variant.
The first minister said “we must be open minded to doing anything” to ensure the safety of citizens in Scotland.
Ten countries in southern Africa have already been added to the red list, and compulsory PCR tests are set to be introduced for all incoming travellers from 04:00 on Tuesday (30 November). Passengers will have to self-isolate until they can prove a negative result.
Further restrictions also include compulsory self-isolation for those who come into contact with cases of Omicron, regardless of their vaccination status.
Ms Sturgeon, appearing on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (28 November), said that the new restrictions would come into effect “as quickly as possible” but added: “I think we may need to go further in restricting travel in the days to come. I hope I’m wrong, but we must keep our minds open to that.”
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid, who also appeared on this morning’s episode of The Andrew Marr Show, has admitted that air passengers from South Africa were not tested on arrival into the UK on Friday, despite concerns that some may have contracted the new variant.
However, Mr Javid has said that the UK had “acted very swiftly” in response to the Omicron variant. He continued, saying that he had asked the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to give him “urgent advice on broadening the booster programme.”
Omicron was first identified by scientists in South Africa, but cases have since been detected in. other countries across the globe, including Germany, Australia, Israel and Hong Kong. Omicron has been named a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organisation.
Whilst Ms Sturgeon has stated that they are unaware of any cases of the new variant in Scotland as of yet, she has warned that it is a “moving picture”.
She added: “I hope we don’t identify cases in Scotland but I think we should assume that we will, therefore I am asking people to behave now as if that new variant is in Scotland.”
“Comply with all the mitigations and precautions that are currently in place, pick up our compliance and that will help us, if it is here, slow down any risk of transmission.”