SCOTLAND’S coronavirus levels will be decided upon using stricter measures when the tiered system returns after lockdown.

The Government is planning to return to the previously used levels system at the end of April. However, the number of positive cases will need to be much lower than last year if an area wants restrictions to be lifted.

Due to the newer, faster-spreading coronavirus variant the Government says a stricter approach is necessary.

This afternoon Nicola Sturgeon will update the Scottish Parliament on the Covid-19 situation, after announcing the initial steps out of lockdown last week.

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Mainland Scotland went into level 4 lockdown on December 26 before rules were tightened to a “stay at home” order.

From April 26 it is hoped non-essential shops, hairdressers and gyms will be able to open again.

The Scottish Government’s updated framework indicates that local authorities with a case rate of more than 150 per 100,000 people are likely to go into level 4 – with only essential shops open and hospitality closed. Last year the level 4 threshold was 300 cases per 100,000.

For areas aiming for level 2, cases would need to get below 50 per 100,000 – significantly lower than the previous 150 per 100,000 rate.

In level 2 areas people can travel outside of their local authority boundary and pubs are permitted to serve alcohol.

The rate is calculated by adding up an area’s cases over the previous seven days, then dividing by the population of that area – the figure is then multiplied by 100,000.

According to the Scottish Government the changes are informed by World Health Organisation guidance calling for thresholds to be stricter.

The document says the new system will “have the effect of keeping some areas in higher levels than they would previously have been for the same level of incidence”.

However, this is seen as “a necessary response to increase transmission of the new variant”.

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Contact tracing is currently underway in Scotland after three cases of a Covid-19 variant first identified in Brazil was found.

The three Scottish residents tested positive after flying into Aberdeen from Brazil via Paris and London. National clinical director Jason Leitch said they were oil workers who were returning to their families.

According to experts the Brazilian variant may be more contagious than the original strain.

Work is ongoing to contact the 20 passengers who were on flight BA1312 with the group.