MORE cases of the Omicron Covid-19 variant have now been identified in Scotland, the Health Secretary has announced.

Humza Yousaf said there are now five cases in the Lanarkshire area and four in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, up from the six across the two areas announced on Monday.

The Holyrood minister was asked if the cases were linked to the recent UN climate summit in Glasgow or a Scotland v South Africa rugby match in Edinburgh.

READ MORE: All Scotland's Omicron cases linked to a single event, Nicola Sturgeon says

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “There’s nothing that links these cases or indeed the variant back to COP26 or indeed the rugby match.”

He added: “There’s nothing that indicates these cases or this new variant has come via the rugby or COP26 but that work of course is still ongoing.”

Omicron was first reported in South Africa, but cases have been detected in countries across the world, including Australia, Germany, Israel and Hong Kong.

The National: Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon gives statement on Covid Omicron variant today – how to watch

The Scottish Government has vowed to expand and speed up its vaccine booster programme in response to the new variant.

Following the publication of new advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI), boosters will be offered to over-18s, and the wait after a second dose is being cut from six to three months. Children aged 12 to 15 will also now be invited for a second jag.

Yousaf added: “We have adequate supply including with the most recent JCVI advice but the biggest constraining factor is workforce, we’d have to go from a position of administering around about 500,000 flu and booster vaccines, don’t forget we’re also doing flu vaccines, a week to around about 700,000 a week, that is before yesterday’s advice came in.

“Now with yesterday’s advice we suspect there’s an additional at least 1 million doses added to the eligibility criteria.”

He said authorities are working to ramp up the programme and “accelerate it as quickly as we possibly can”.

The Health Secretary explained that calls to reopen mass vaccination centres do not take account of the “challenges and complexities” of the vaccination programme, and authorities do not want to take NHS staff away from other important duties.

He told the BBC: “The NHS is under significant pressure, what we don’t want to do is take people away from really core, important, significant duties – the NHS is already under significant pressure – and get them doing vaccinations.

“We will certainly do what we can. Before JCVI advice came out yesterday, just for the acceleration I spoke about, we’d need an additional 440 whole-time equivalents to help us with that vaccination programme.

“With JCVI advice yesterday that will significantly increase, so we’ll do what we can but of course additional premises are absolutely a part of the plan.”

The National:

READ MORE: Fury as group of Tory backbenchers refuse to wear face masks in the Commons

Professor Adam Finn, a member of the JCVI, said that the UK had to “act immediately and not wait” after the discovery of the Omicron variant.

He told BBC Breakfast: “I do think we need to take this seriously.

“It is a possibility that this will not turn out to be a major problem but there are lots of signs that suggest that it might.

“It looks like it’s quite a transmissible virus. We don’t really yet know whether it causes worse disease. It may well not do that.

“But the main question is whether it’s able to evade the immunity that we’ve got to some extent from the vaccine so far and the infections we’ve all had.

“And so because of that, and because of the possibility of a major wave, the thing to do now is to act immediately and not wait.”

As Omicron cases increase in Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon is delivering an update to Parliament on the pandemic