FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has moved to reassure Scots about the Covid risks posed by COP26 over fears of a four-fold spike in cases.

During her official coronavirus update, the SNP leader said no restrictions would change but announced the introduction of lateral flow testing for red list travellers, and urged Scots to follow all guidance.

She said the health service is now under "more pressure than at any previous stage in the pandemic".

But she also played down fears of a COP26 surge, saying it can be a "safe" and "successful" summit.

The Sunday National revealed how official modelling published by the Scottish Government highlights the prospect of a significant increase in ­infections as a result of the UN climate conference, more indoor mixing and the return of schools following the October break.

Under the worse case scenario, ­hospital cases could rise to up to 2200, with 190 in intensive care. 

READ MORE: Scotland 'faces a four-fold Covid spike at COP26 in a best-case scenario'

The forecast came after Professor Devi Sridhar, who sits on the ­Scottish Government’s Covid-19 advisory group, said a mass event during current health conditions "will cause an ­increase in cases".

Speaking in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon, Sturgeon moved to reassure MSPs and members of the public about the impact of the summit, which begins in Glasgow on Sunday. She said: "The hosting of COP26 would always have been a significant challenge, given the scale of the event, for the Scottish Goverment and for Glasgow City Council.

"The fact that it's happening amidst a global pandemic obviously makes it even more challenging.

"It is inevitably the case that it poses a risk of increased Covid transmission.

"I want to assure parliament and the public, however, that the Scottish Government has been working closely with the United Nations and the UK Government to mitigate these risks as far as possible."

Most delegates will be double vaccinated, the FM said, and those from outside the common travel area will have to show proof of a negative test. Those from red list countries will have to stay in managed quarantine. People entering the "blue zone" at the Scottish Event Campus will have to carry out daily lateral flow testing and follow hygiene mitigations.

READ MORE: Accident and emergency wait times in Scotland reach new record high

Meanwhile, lateral flow test will be allowed on day two of arrival for people travelling to Scotland from red list countries from Sunday at 4am. At £20-30, these will be cheaper than PCR tests but must be followed up with a PCR check in the case of a positive result. 

However, other mitigations like the wearing of face masks and the encouragement to work from home where possible remain in place.

That's amidst a renewed emphasis on personal and collective responsibility as winter flu season nears. 

A further £482 million for NHS Boards and Integration Authorities has been announced to meet costs of the pandemic and remobilising health services. This includes funding for Test and Protect and the vaccination programme.

Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: "Our frontline health and care workers have been remarkable throughout the pandemic, and we continue to support NHS Boards and Integration Authorities to deliver and remobilise vital services as we approach the toughest winter the system has potentially ever experienced."

“This £482 million includes just over £121 million for Test and Protect and a further £136 million for the vaccination programme. The rest of the funding will cover costs including additional staffing to support hospital scale-up, equipment, maintenance and IT.”

READ MORE: Scottish Catholic leaders cut oil and gas ties in £3.1bn global action

More than 4m flu jags will be given this winter alongside Covid vaccinations. There is now an average of around 2500 coronavirus cases per day and where Scotland previously had the highest case rate of all UK nations, it now has the lowest.

But this is "fragile", she said, urging people to continue all hygiene protocols and for anyone not yet vaccinated to come forwards. 

She said: "This is a moment for all of us to step up our compliance."