TWO Scottish health boards are the worst Covid hotspots in Europe, new figures reveal.

NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde topped the World Health Organsation’s list of Covid incidence rates in European “subnational regions” over the past week.

The ranking is based on Covid infections per 100,000 people. Over the past seven days, cases in Lanarkshire have more than doubled to a rate of 1125 per 100,000 people, making it the worst hit region in Europe.

Greater Glasgow and Clyde was second on the WHO list, with 1017 cases per 100,000 people.

Lothian, Ayrshire and Arran, Forth Valley and Dumfries and Galloway are also among the top 10 European hotspots.

Covid cases in Scotland have roughly doubled every week since restrictions eased, leading to an increase in hospital admissions.

More than 7000 new cases were recorded on Sunday, setting a new daily record.

Lanarkshire health board bosses announced earlier this week that the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures would be postponed for two weeks to free up staff and beds for urgent care. It comes as staff struggle to cope with the “relentless pressures” of the significant rise in cases.

Dr John Logan, NHS Lanarkshire’s acting director of public health, said that hospital numbers had “almost doubled” and encouraged locals to get vaccinated and continue to test to prevent the spread.

He explained: “We strongly encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated and for everyone to do a Covid test twice per week, especially before going to work, attending events, meeting people or visiting the vulnerable.

“The more the virus spreads undetected, the greater the number of cases of infection and the greater the chance new variants can take hold. By having regular tests and taking up the vaccine offer, we keep infections down.

“We are now beginning to see extremely high Covid-19 case numbers across Lanarkshire."

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Logan added: “While the majority of the adult population has received two doses of the vaccine, we are extremely concerned as we are beginning to see higher numbers of Covid patients in our hospitals which are already struggling to cope with demand on staff and services.

“If you have had the vaccine or a negative test result, it is still important to remember the basics – keep your distance, wear a face covering and clean your hands. Limit the number of contacts you have, especially with people who have not been vaccinated. If you are planning to meet others, please meet outside whenever possible.

“We are particularly concerned about vulnerable people, especially those who haven’t had two doses of the vaccine, who are more likely to develop severe disease and need admission to intensive care.”

On Friday, essential visiting only rules were applied to Glasgow Royal Infirmary within the nightingale wards.

Jennifer Rodgers, deputy nurse director, said: “This has been a difficult decision, but it is essential to help protect our patients, visitors and staff. We recognise how difficult this is for patients and the people that matter most to them and we will keep this under close review so that we can return to person centred visiting as soon as possible.

“For those who plan to visit a relative at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and are unsure of what visiting guidelines apply, please either call the ward or go to our website where you will find more information.

“If you are visiting any of our hospitals, we strongly recommend that you have a Voluntary Lateral Flow Test prior to visiting and then undertake these twice per week for as long as you are a visitor.”