SCOTLAND should take a "cautious approach" to lifting remaining Covid rules, the chief medical officer has said. 

Professor Sir Gregor Smith said he is “keeping a close eye on” rising infection levels and hospital cases.

However, he said there is some early evidence the hospital admission rate is beginning to peak.

Scotland’s legal Covid-19 restrictions, including the requirement to wear face masks, are currently due to end on March 21.

READ MORE: Technical issue prevents Covid data publication as cases surge

Nicola Sturgeon will give a coronavirus update in the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.

The latest figures showed there were 1805 people in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19, up 142 on the previous day, with 27 people in intensive care, up four.

That is higher than the Omicron peak of 1571 which was recorded in January this year, with more patients in hospital than at any time since February 4, 2021, when the total was 1812.

Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday, Smith said ministers will make a decision on whether to go ahead with lifting the face mask requirement shortly.

He said data shows some older people are beginning to adapt their behaviour by reducing their contacts slightly, while the use of face masks is also up.

Asked what advice he would give to ministers, he said: “I think that a cautious approach at this point in time is probably the right approach, and we’re already seeing the public adopting those additional protections.”

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In the first week of March, an estimated one in every 18 Scots had Covid-19, data from the Office for National Statistics showed.

Smith said: “We’ve been keeping a close eye on these for the last three weeks, and clearly when you see cases begin to increase like this it does give you a little bit of concern.”

Hospital occupancy began to rise around February 14, he said.

He added: “We’re seeing more older population becoming impacted on this occasion, and that’s leading to some longer lengths of stay, which is driving occupancy up as well.”

Smith said there are “some hopeful signs” the hospital admission rate “has begun to kind of top out just a little bit over the course of the latter end of last week”.

The Scottish Government said that due to a technical issue, Public Health Scotland (PHS) has been unable to provide the latest data on cases, deaths and vaccinations.

It said PHS is working hard to resolve the issue and hope to return to normal reporting on Tuesday.