When will Nicola Sturgeon announce changes to Christmas restrictions in Scotland?

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is to hold a press conference at 5.30pm on Saturday following a call with leaders of the four nations about a new variant of Covid-19 spreading in the south of England.

Nicola Sturgeon arriving to attend First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament last week. Picture: PA Media
Nicola Sturgeon arriving to attend First Minister's Questions at the Scottish Parliament last week. Picture: PA Media

The First Minister chaired a cabinet meeting at 3pm and will then give an update to the public afterwards.

She warned that “preventative action” may need to be taken to mitigate the risk of the new strain taking hold.

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"Following a four nations Covid call earlier, I’ll chair @scotgov Cabinet meeting this afternoon to discuss emerging evidence on new variant,” she wrote on Twitter.

"Cases currently at lower level in Scotland than rUK - but preventative action may be necessary to stop faster spreading strain taking hold.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson will also give an update after emergency talks this afternoon, amid reports that travel restrictions may be tightened in the south of England.

Chief Medical Officer for England, Chris Whitty, said the new strain can spread more quickly, but underlined that there is no evidence that it causes a higher death rate or will not be responsive to a vaccine.

First Minister of Northern Ireland Arelene Foster called the new strain “very concerning” after a four-nation briefing.

Professor Whitty said: “As announced on Monday, the UK has identified a new variant of Covid-19 through Public Health England’s genomic surveillance,” he said in a statement.

“As a result of the rapid spread of the new variant, preliminary modelling data and rapidly rising incidence rates in the South East, the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) now consider that the new strain can spread more quickly.

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England on a 'knife-edge' amid growing concerns over new Covid-19 variant

“We have alerted the World Health Organisation and are continuing to analyse the available data to improve our understanding.

“There is no current evidence to suggest the new strain causes a higher mortality rate or that it affects vaccines and treatments although urgent work is under way to confirm this.

“Given this latest development it is now more vital than ever that the public continue to take action in their area to reduce transmission.”

Former UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Saturday morning that the situation in England is on a “knife-edge” with regard to higher restrictions.

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