OMICRON cases in Scotland jumped by 18 yesterday, taking the total to 48, with a new case of the variant recorded for the first time in NHS Lothian.

Almost half the cases – 23 – are in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, which recorded 12 more in 24 hours. NHS Lanarkshire recorded four new cases in the same period and has 13 overall.

Both areas were the source of the outbreak in Scotland that emerged a week ago and was initially confined to cases linked to a single private event on November 20.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously confirmed there were now several sources of the new variant in Scotland as it spread in the community, including a Steps concert at the Hydro in Glasgow on November 22.

In yesterday’s figures, a further case was confirmed in the Forth Valley Health Board area, taking the total to six.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf says he won't 'ban your granny' from Christmas due to Omicron fears

NHS Highland and NHS Grampian remain with three and two cases respectively. There was also a case of Covid-19 “likely” to be linked to the variant at Bishopton Primary School in Renfrewshire, which is also used by Dargavel Primary and is used by a total of around 650 children.

A letter from the council to Bishopton parents said: “There has been a case of Covid-19 linked to Bishopton Primary School that is likely to be due to the new Omicron variant.

“A careful assessment of the situation has been carried out and those children who are close contacts have been identified and will be informed.

“If you have not been contacted regarding your child and they have no symptoms, then there is no need for your child or other members of the household to isolate or get tested unless you are contacted separately by Test and Protect and asked to do so.”

It said pupils should continue to attend school if they are well and had not been told to self-isolate for any other reason.

The National: Humza Yousaf

Before the latest figures were released, Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said people across Scotland should continue with their Christmas plans but “make them safer” amid concern about the variant. He said he was not going to tell people not to invite their grandmother for Christmas dinner, but urged those meeting indoors to ask people to take lateral flow tests before arrival and ensure adequate ventilation.

Yousaf told BBC Radio Scotland’s The Sunday Show: “You don’t have to cancel your (Christmas) plans but definitely make them safer. That’s what I’m going to do.

“Me and my constituency office are going to go to a restaurant for lunch but have all agreed that we will be doing lateral flow tests before then on the day.

“The same for Christmas dinner with my family. We’ll have my mother-in-law and some other relatives over and they’ll all be doing lateral flow devices.

“I’ll not be taking their Covid certification at the door but we’ll just be doing what we can to make our plans a bit safer.

“We’re asking people to exercise their judgment and make their Christmas plans as safe as they possibly can ... I’m not going to say to people that you shouldn’t invite their cousin, that you shouldn’t invite their granny to Christmas dinner.”

Scotland recorded one coronavirus-linked death and 2067 new cases in the previous 24 hours, according to yesterday’s data.

The figures came as it emerged Scottish patients would be among those to be offered the first at-home treatment for Covid by Christmas, as ministers roll out an antiviral pill to help protect the most vulnerable from Omicron. Last month, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced it had granted a conditional authorisation for the first oral antiviral – Lagevrio (the brand name for molnupiravir) for use in the UK.

It does not offer a cure for Covid-19, but has been shown in clinical trials to reduce relative risk of hospitalisation or death by around 30% in at risk, non-hospitalised adult patients.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Initial deployment of Covid-19 novel antivirals, such as molnupiravir, is to be through a UK-wide national study funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). Eligible individuals in Scotland will be able to participate in the study.

“Work to set up and open the study is taking place at pace ... In addition to the UK study, molnupiravir will be made available outside of the national study to the most clinically vulnerable to Covid-19 who are at risk of being hospitalised.”