IT is unlikely that the cases of the Omicron variant found in Scotland are related to COP26, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

During an emergency press briefing after six cases of the new variant of Covid-19 were found in Scotland, Sturgeon said it was “not impossible but also not probable” that they stemmed from the climate summit held in Glasgow at the beginning of November.

The new variant, first discovered in South Africa, has led to countries around the world tightening restrictions amid fears it could be more transmissable than the Delta variant.

If the variant had established itself during the conference, it is likely there would be evidence of more “widespread community transmission”, Sturgeon explained.

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Asked by journalists if there was a link between the two, the First Minister said she had “no information right now” that they are related.

Chief Medical Officer Gregor Smith agreed, adding that he had asked Public Health Scotland to look for further evidence of the variant in positive cases to rule it out.

Sturgeon told journalists that as contact tracing is ongoing she can’t give a “100% guarantee that is not the case”.

She added: “I think though, if you consider the timelines of COP, it is not impossible but it's perhaps also not probable that there are connections to COP.

“COP ended, I think, on November 12. Had we had this variant circulating undetected in Scotland from back then I think our surveillance efforts right now may be showing more cases and more widespread community transmission.

“So that's not a definitive answer, but it is, I think, an assumption that we can make based on what we know right now.”

CMO Smith added that currently the Scottish Government doesn’t have any evidence of the variant “linking back” to COP26.

He added: “We'll continue to do the work through and continue to do the enhanced contact tracing, and make sure that we identify and isolate and retest anyone who's showing this particular feature.”

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Smith, later in the press conference, emphasised again that there was no evidence but revealed he had asked health authorities to investigate.

He said: “I have asked Public Health Scotland to look, especially for any evidence of the single gene drop out positive cases that I spoke about earlier, just to see whether there is anything at all, which would be unusual.

“At this moment in time, we’re not detecting anything, but that process is ongoing.”

It comes as the First Minister explained that there is currently no evidence to suggest that the illness caused by the Omicron variant is more severe.

The First Minister, pictured at COP26, says it is

The First Minister made the assertion about COP26 during an emergency briefing 

However, she added that there is very little known about the variant and that this will remain under review while authorities investigate.

Sturgeon, alongside Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford, wrote to Prime Minister Boris Johnson demanding that devolved nations don’t “again” find themselves handicapped in their response to Covid by a lack of financial support.

The two leaders said that economic levers which are outwith their control had previously been "switched on as required for England", while Wales and Scotland lost out.

However, Downing Street quickly rejected the request for a “tougher four-nations approach” within hours of it being called for.