Here’s a look at the latest coronavirus data that could be used by the Scottish government to inform its decision to ease restrictions.
The proportion of people testing positive for the coronavirus in Scotland has increased slightly in recent weeks.
About one in 540 people in private households in Scotland had Covid-19 in the week to June 5 – up from one in 680 the week before, according to estimates released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Friday.
This is the highest level since the week of April 10.
These numbers are still very low compared to the peak of the second wave in January; the latest estimate of one in 540 people is equivalent to 0.2% of the population, or 9,700 people: well below the 1.1%, or 55,700 people, estimated at the start of the year.
The ONS also describes the trend in Scotland as ‘uncertain’, and there is not yet enough evidence to describe the recent increase in the context of a steady and long-term rise in infections.
A total of 6,211 new cases of coronavirus were recorded in Scotland in the seven days leading up to June 10, according to Public Health Scotland.
That equates to 113.7 cases per 100,000 people – up from 88.4 a week earlier and the highest since February 7.
Scotland also has the highest rate among the UK’s four nations.
Of the 32 local authority areas in Scotland, Dundee currently has the highest rate: 288.6, up from 162.7 week-over-week.
South Ayrshire has the second highest rate (227.3 vs. 172.3), followed by Clackmannanshire (209.5 vs. 151.3).
In total, 17 of the 32 local areas now have rates above 100 cases per 100,000 inhabitants.
And 23 of the 32 are currently seeing a week-to-week increase.
The number of hospitalizations and Covid-19 patients is increasing.
Some 158 patients with confirmed Covid-19 were admitted to hospitals in Scotland in the week ending June 8 – up from 137 the week before, and the highest since the week ending March 30.
A total of 128 people with recently confirmed Covid-19 were reportedly hospitalized on June 14, up from 122 a week earlier.
The seven-day average number of inpatients is currently 127.
This is the highest since April 16.
However, hospital activity remains well below the level observed at the height of the second wave.
Admissions peaked at 1,391 in the week ending Jan. 12, while the number of patients peaked at 2,053 on Jan. 22.
The Delta variant of Covid-19, which originated in India, is now the dominant form of coronavirus in Scotland, according to new findings from the Usher Institute at the University of Edinburgh.
Researchers analyzed data from 5.4 million people for the period April 1 to June 6 and recorded 19,543 community cases and 377 hospital admissions where a specific variant of Covid-19 was confirmed.
Of these totals, 7,723 cases and 134 hospital admissions were found to have the Delta variant, which is believed to be around 60% more transmissible than the previously dominant Alpha variant that was first identified in Kent, England in the end of last year.
While vaccines have been shown to reduce the risk of hospitalization, strong protective effects against the Delta variant were not seen until at least 28 days after the first dose of vaccine.
In community cases at least two weeks after the second dose, the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine has been shown to provide 79% protection against infection with the Delta variant, compared to 92% against the Alpha variant.
The Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine offered 60% protection against infection with the Delta variant, compared to 73% for the Alpha variant.
Professor Aziz Sheikh, director of the Usher Institute and head of the EAVE II study, said the Delta variant is “unfortunately associated with an increased risk of hospitalization from Covid-19”.
“Although they may not be as effective as against other variants, two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech and Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccines still offer substantial protection against the risk of infection and hospitalization.
“So it’s really important that when offered second doses, people take them, both to protect themselves and to reduce transmission in households and the community. “
Some 3.5 million first doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been delivered to Scotland, equivalent to 79.3% of the adult population.
2.4 million additional second doses were also given, meaning that 55.2% of people aged 18 and over are likely to be fully immunized.
However, vaccine uptake varies among different age groups.
The latest available breakdown from Public Health Scotland, showing vaccinations through June 13, shows that 94.6% of people aged 80 and over received both doses of the vaccine – suggesting that 5.4%, or about one people in 20 are not yet fully vaccinated.
It is estimated that 98.6% of 75 to 79 year olds are fully immunized, as well as 99.6% of 70 to 74 year olds, 96.9% of 65 to 69 year olds and 95.9% of 60 to 64 year olds.
But so far, only 83.1% of 55-59 year olds have received both doses, along with 66.2% of 50-54 year olds.
All people in Scotland over 40 are now urged to receive their second injection of Covid-19 as soon as possible, with the Scottish government saying that anyone in this age group who has a scheduled appointment longer than eight weeks after his first dose should seek a niche earlier.