SCOTLAND’S second wave of coronavirus infections was caused largely by UK and international travel, according to a new report.

Speaking as she revealed details of the report to the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), Nicola Sturgeon said these journeys had “reignited” the virus after it had been suppressed.

The First Minister said such risks were the reason why the Scottish Government recommended against non-essential travel outside of the country and for legal restrictions being in place to prevent people travelling between areas in level 3 and 4.

She reiterated during yesterday’s Scottish Government’s coronavirus briefing that travel restrictions were a “vital part of tackling the virus and trying to keep it contained rather than allowing it to spread across the country”.

Sturgeon said 39 coronavirus deaths and 897 positive tests had been recorded in the previous 24 hours, bringing the total number of fatalities under daily measures to 3989. Data from the National Records of Scotland showed 5868 people have died with confirmed or suspected coronavirus since the pandemic began.

Giving more detail on the Sage report, Professor Jason Leitch, the national clinical director, said the first lockdown successfully eliminated around the majority of 300 strains of the virus. He said Covid-19 infections in the second wave were caused by new strains introduced to Scotland from other parts of the UK or abroad: “Once as a society we are allowed to travel again, we brought fresh new strains into Scotland, which started our second wave.”

Leitch said this was a “cautionary tale” to people considering travelling over the Christmas period.

“If you can stay local, you will help Scotland to avoid another spike in January,” he said.

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The First Minister said a new report on coronavirus outbreaks among students showed that between the start of August and the end of November, there were almost 3000 cases linked to “student postcodes” – covering halls of residence or other student accommodation. Almost two-thirds of theses occurred in a three-week period between late September and early October.

She said more than three-quarters of the cases were found in Edinburgh and Glasgow – with about a quarter in students living in the Pollock Halls of Residence at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Glasgow’s Murano Halls.

Sturgeon also referred to a Public Health Scotland report showing that in the seven days after November 30, some 22,000 tests on students were carried out using lateral flow devices.

These more rapid tests are being offered to those university students planning to return home for Christmas, with the FM noting that because students were being urged to be tested twice, the figures did not mean 22,000 people have been tested.

She said it was nevertheless a “promising figure” that showed “strong uptake of the testing on offer to students”.

Sturgeon added the number of positive tests from these students, which was “currently thought to be relatively low”, will be published next week.

With mass community testing also under way in six areas of west and central Scotland, the FM said 13,000 had been carried out up to December 7.

“In total, community testing has so far identified 426 positive test samples across these six test centres,” she said.

That gave a positivity rate of about 3%, she added, saying the community testing allowed people to be checked even if they do not have coronavirus symptoms.

She said: “The tests over the past week have identified positive cases that might well not have been identified otherwise. This pilot programme is showing us that community testing can play a part in controlling Covid, especially in areas with high-level transmission.”