PUBLIC health experts have given their thoughts on a “really weird” trend in Scotland which has seen a disproportionate number of young men test positive for Covid-19.

Stephen Reicher, a behavioural expert at the University of St Andrews, suggested the figures could be a result of young men mixing indoors to watch the European football championships.

He pointed out that males under the age of 45 have been around three times more likely to test positive for Covid-19 in recent days.

The gender gap is even more stark among those aged between 20 and 24. In the latest figures, males made up more than three quarters of people testing positive in that age group.

Reicher told BBC Good Morning Scotland: "We can't be sure why that is, but the obvious explanation is that people were getting together for the football and not taking precautions."

The speculation comes as Scotland recorded its highest ever number of daily cases –2969.

The test positivity rate was 7.3%, with a record 42,310 tests taking place. Five deaths were also recorded among people who tested positive in the previous 28 days, the highest daily total since April.

Speaking this morning, Professor Linda Bauld of the University of Edinburgh said the figures revealed a “really weird” trend of significantly more men testing positive.

She said: “Throughout the pandemic we’ve had a pretty equal relationship between male and female cases, and in fact at some points we had more women testing positive, for example health and care workers, because proportionately more of them – particularly care workers – are female.”

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The health expert explained the discrepancy is unlikely to last for long because men will pass the virus to the rest of their households.

“What happens is, of course, it passes around the household, so we have more men now for a few days, which is really weird, but that will even out because they will pass it on to their wives, girlfriends and female children,” she said.

Bauld, however, did not point the finger at the Euros for the increase in cases, but said: “We know from multiple behavioural studies that young men are more likely to take risks.

“So they will be more likely to engage in more interactions that are outwith what the guidance recommends, so clearly that is happening.”

The professor said she was "pretty shocked" by yesterday's figures that it was inevitable increasing cases would put strain on the NHS.

However, she added that there was room for optimism as the majority of cases were now among people in mid-life, meaning fewer were getting seriously ill or at risk of dying from the disease. 

She commented: "I was pretty shocked to be honest. These are big numbers.

"We've heard from the First Minister repeatedly that round 5% of people are ending up in hospital compared to 10% previously in the pandemic. 

"But if you look at 5% of 2979, that's still a lot of people who wouldn't want to be in hospital."

Bauld added: "So I am concerned and we'll have to see how this pans through and quite what is causing it. We can speculate, but it's not good."

National clinical director Jason Leitch also declined to blame the increase specifically on young men gathering to watch the Euros. But he did warn that the virus has been spread primarily via indoor socialising.

Professor Devi Sridhar, a health adviser to the Scottish Government, called for calm after yesterday’s startling new figures.

She tweeted: “Seeing lots of unhelpful panic over today’s numbers. Obviously caution needed, but most important marker is whether link between cases and moderate to severe disease being broken.

"This is a different wave than previous ones. We are in new territory.”