PEOPLE who catch the Omicron Covid variant have a lower risk of hospitalisation compared with the Delta strain, a new study has suggested.

In a pre-print study published on Wednesday, scientists in the Scotland-wide Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance of Covid-19 said that the early data suggested that Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in risk of hospital admission when compared with the strain which used to be dominant in the country.

Dr Jim McMenamin, the national Covid-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland, labelled the findings a “qualified good-news story”, but said that it was “important we don’t get ahead of ourselves”.

“The potentially serious impact of Omicron on a population cannot be underestimated. And a smaller proportion of a much greater number of cases that might ultimately require treatment can still mean a substantial number of people who may experience severe Covid infections that could lead to potential hospitalisation,” he said.

READ MORE: Wales introduces strict new Covid rules as Omicron cases 'rise sharply'

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon welcomed the "encouraging early data" but warned that even a small proportion of cases of a larger number of cases will put pressure on NHS capacity.

She said: "This is encouraging early data - hopefully confidence will build as we get more data.

"Key point to remember though - a smaller percentage of a much larger number of cases will still put increased pressure on NHS and economy.

"So we must keep suppressing virus while we complete boosters."

In just a few weeks, Omicron became the dominant Covid strain in Scotland, overtaking Delta.

Last week, Sturgeon said that the number of Omicron cases were "rising exponentially" in Scotland and on Tuesday the First Minister announced a raft of new measures to stop the variant from spreading rapidly.

The new measures include a limit on the number of people allowed at events, people being asked to limit contact with other households and table service being introduced for hospitality venues.