NICOLA Sturgeon has asked Scots "to significantly step up" their compliance with Covid rules in an effort to prevent the Omicron variant spreading rapidly.

The First Minister was speaking at an emergency Covid briefing called after the Omicron variant was found in Scotland.

Sturgeon also said she had written to Boris Johnson, in conjunction with Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, to propose a "tougher four-nations approach to travel restrictions".

She said this would see people arriving in the UK asked to quarantine for eight days, and asked to take a PCR test on both day two and day eight of that period.

"Anything less than a four-nations approach will be ineffective", Sturgeon warned. 

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The two FMs have also asked the Tory government for "confirmation that should any further protection be necessary, Treasury funding will be available to any of the four nations that require to activate business support schemes".

The SNP leader said they would also be calling on Boris Johnson to "immediately" convene a Cobra meeting to discuss the threat posed by the Omicron variant and a "tougher" approach. 

Sturgeon stressed that the pandemic in Scotland was still "stable", but that this may change as colder weather kicks in and the effects of the Omicron variant become apparent.

The First Minister said the "most important point" is that there is still a huge amount we do not know about the new variant. 

She said there was concern that the Omicron variant may be more transmissable than the Delta variant - which is currently the dominant strain in Scotland. 

However, Sturgeon said there is "no evidence at this stage" to suggest that the disease caused by Omicron is any different to that caused by previous variants of the coronavirus.

She called on Scots to increase compliance with the rules currently in place.

The National: Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Young was speaking alongside the First Minister at the Covid updateChief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Young was speaking alongside the First Minister at the Covid update

The First Minister said: "At this stage, we are asking people everybody across the country to significantly step up and increase compliance with all existing precautions.

"Face coverings, hygiene like washing hands and surfaces, getting vaccinated and of course testing yourself regularly with lateral flow devices and testing yourself before mixing socially."

She asked employers to "ensure that they are maximising the potential of homeworking".

The First Minister also said that the Scottish Government is "getting ready to operationalize any new recommendations" for the vaccination programme which may be put out by the JCVI.

These changes to the vaccination roll-out could include a shortening of the interval between doses, or increased eligibility for the booster jag scheme.

Sturgeon said that getting vaccinated was the "single most important thing" that the Government is asking people to do to limit the impact of the coronavirus. 

The Scottish Government announced on Monday morning that four cases of the Omicron variant had been found in the Lanarkshire area, with two more in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area.

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said that some of the cases identified have no travel history, which suggests there is a degree of community transmission.

Sturgeon reiterated this point in her update, saying it underlines the importance of sticking to coronavirus guidelines. She also said it is likely to be a “fast-moving situation”, and that the response will be kept under close review.

The first two cases in the UK – in Nottingham and Essex – were announced on Saturday, while a third Omicron case was detected in the UK on Sunday in a person with travel links to southern Africa.

The UK Government will convene an urgent meeting of G7 health ministers on Monday to discuss the variant amid concerns it could spread rapidly and partially evade existing jabs.