PEOPLE coming into Scotland may face having to quarantine in hotels as ministers consider tougher new restrictions to contain the spread of a highly infectious mutant coronavirus strain.

National clinical director Jason Leitch was asked whether further measures were being looked at regarding travel when he appeared before MSPs this morning.

Leitch said quarantine rules for each country were kept "under constant review" at UK level with ministers in Edinburgh also looking at what how long the period should be to stay in isolation or whether it should be in "quarantine hotels".

He added: "We haven't felt the need to change that but the new variant puts everything on the table and the more we learn the more we worry about travel. It's as simply at that ... particularly in the next few weeks if lockdown works for us we will have to think very very carefully about what we do with travel restrictions because it will be the only way the virus can get back in."

Currently all non-essential travel into Scotland from the rest of the UK and Ireland is banned.

The restriction was due to be eased over the Christmas period from December 23 to 27, but the First Minister at the weekend dropped the relaxation plan following news over the new Covid variant, responsible for a spike in cases in London and the south of England.

Some 40 countries around the world have closed their borders to British citizens and banned travel into the UK in a bid to stop the mutant virus taking hold in their countries.

New Zealand, Australia and South Korea area among countries around the world which offer quarantine facilities for anyone who tests positive as well as travellers entering the country.

Professor Devi Sridhar, chairwoman of global public health at the University of Edinburgh, raised the possibility of quarantine hotel places for people who do not want to expose their families to the virus after testing positive when she spoke to a Westminster committee in October.

Asked about the possibility of quarantine hotels after Sridhar's evidence to MPs, the First Minister said: "I don't know exactly what circumstances she would be suggesting 'Covid hotels' but given that I do have the privilege of being able to speak to her directly it's something I would probably want to speak to her about. Certainly some other countries [such as] use quarantine hotels for incoming travellers ... I will certainly make a point of looking at Devi's comments and talking to her."