The Scottish government aims to expand and advance their COVID-19 booster programme, following the six cases of the Omicron variant that were reported as of Monday 29 November. This decision is based on advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

Boosters will be offered to over-18s and the wait after a second dose is being cut from six to three months. Children aged 12 to 15 will also now be invited for a second jab.

The JCVI has advised that those aged 12 to 15 should be invited for a second jab three months after their first. Severely immunosuppressed people are also recommended to receive a fourth dose of the vaccine. This advice follows the emergence of 11 Omicron cases that have now been detected across the UK.

Ms Sturgeon told a media briefing: “At this stage, we are asking people to significantly step up and increase compliance with all existing precautions. Face coverings, hygiene like washing hands and surfaces, vaccination, and of course testing yourself with LFTs and testing before you mix with people from other households. As of today, I am asking employers to maximise the potential of home working.”

Following its initial detection in South Africa on 24 November 2021, the Omicron variant has since spread to over a dozen countries. On 25 November, the South African Department of Health said the variant is highly mutated, even when compared to the highly infectious Delta variant. Omicron is expected to contain up to 50 mutations affecting the spike protein.

Ten countries have been added to the UK travel ‘red list’ in response to rising Omicron cases and all overseas travellers arriving into the UK will now need to take a PCR test.

The World Health Organisation has warned that Omicron carries a very high risk of infection surges and it could take weeks to understand whether the variant is likely to cause severe illness, or escape protection against immunity induced by vaccines.