FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there is no need to “hit the panic button” over the new coronavirus variant.

The new strain of the virus has been found in South Africa, Botswana, Israel and Hong Kong, but no cases have yet been reported in the UK.

Little is known about the variant, but the four nations of the UK have taken the decision to add South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Namibia to the travel red list as a precaution.

Speaking to Bauer Media ahead of the start of the SNP conference, Sturgeon said: “I don’t think we should get ahead of ourselves and I don’t think we should be pressing the panic button around any of this.

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“But there is no doubt that developments in the last 24 hours around this new variant are the most significant and the most concerning that we have had in the last few months.

“We still need more data, more analysis – we’re monitoring it very carefully, but given the level of concern about the potential of this new variant, we’ve taken highly precautionary action in restricting travel and asking for self-isolation of people coming from certain countries.

“That’s the appropriate action to take at this stage, but we will be looking carefully at developments over the days to come.”

Meanwhile, people aged over 40 will be able to book a booster jab of the Covid-19 vaccine from Saturday, the Scottish Government has announced.

An online portal already open for those aged between 50 and 59 has been expanded to take bookings from the 40-49 age group.

Appointments will be available from November 30, but six months must have passed since the second jab was given.

Those aged 16 and 17 will also be able to book their second dose using the same portal from Tuesday.