First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that the new Omicron variant could be more transmissible, but there is still no data to suggest it is more severe.

Nine cases of the variant have so far been recorded in Scotland, with some of them having no link to travel to or from South Africa or the countries on the red list, which suggests there could be some level of community transmission.

The Scottish Government is asking people to significantly increase compliance with the current rules in place: wearing face coverings, taking regular lateral flow tests, getting vaccinated and maintaining high levels of hygiene.

Speaking at her briefing on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The pace and progress of the vaccination programme continues to be very good.

“Sixteen and 17 year olds can book their second doses online from today.

“The new variant might be more transmissible than the Delta variant.

“Further data and analysis is needed to confirm this and also what impact, if any, it might have on the effectiveness of vaccines.

“It’s worth stressing that there is no evidence at this stage that the disease caused by the new variant is more severe than others”.

As for case numbers, there has been a decrease in the number of positive cases recorded in North Ayrshire.

The latest data shows that there were 358 positive cases recorded in North Ayrshire between November 21-27, which is a decrease from 386 for the week before.

Two neighbourhoods are currently classed as having suppressed the virus.