Tackling the threat of new COVID-19 variant

People urged to redouble their efforts.

Responding to the confirmation of two cases of the Omicron variant in England, Cabinet Secretary for Health Humza Yousaf said:

“News that two cases of the Omicron variant have been confirmed in England is a stark reminder that we must not drop our guard.

“No cases have yet been detected in Scotland, but the fact this new variant is on our doorstep is clearly a worry and we should act as though it is already here.

“There is still much to learn about the Omicron variant. Questions remain about its severity, transmissibility and effect on treatments or vaccines and scientists are working at pace to provide additional information. Until more is known we must adopt the precautionary principle and do everything we can to minimise the risk of spreading infection.

“Following discussions today with Health Secretary Sajid Javid and the other devolved administrations - and in light of the well known practical reasons for preferring a UK wide approach to travel restrictions - we are aligning with the new border restrictions being introduced by the UK Government which will require fully vaccinated arrivals to take a PCR test within two days of arrival and to self-isolate until a negative result is received. These measures will be introduced as soon as possible and kept under constant review. However, we reserve the right to go further if necessary.

"We are also adopting the expanded red list of countries identified by the UK Government. This will also be kept under review.

“Throughout the pandemic people in Scotland have been amazing in doing everything possible to get cases down, to protect ourselves, each other and the NHS, and in taking up the offer of a vaccine. 

“We must now redouble our efforts to follow the basic rules that have served us well so far in the pandemic – wear a face covering on public transport and in all indoor settings for food and retail; open windows especially if you have people visiting at home;  keep washing your hands regularly and thoroughly.  Work from home where possible, take regular lateral flow tests and behave sensibly.

"If you have symptoms, self-isolate and take a test and and if contacted by Test and Protect or public health teams please co-operate and follow their advice. All close contacts of suspected Omicron cases will be advised to self-isolate for 10 days, regardless of their vaccination status.

“And of course, if you are still unvaccinated or are yet to get your second dose, please get vaccinated now. If you are over 40, you can book your booster jab for six months after your second vaccine dose – please do so. 

“As we head into winter we are facing an as yet unknown risk from this new variant. Let’s once again rise to the challenge and do everything we can to keep everyone safe.”


Angola, Malawi, Mozambique and Zambia have been added to the travel red list meaning all travellers returning to Scotland from these countries will be required to quarantine on arrival at a hotel for 10 days. Managed quarantine accommodation will been stood up for any arrivals from these countries from 4am tomorrow morning (28 November).

Managed quarantine was already in place from 4am today (27 November) for arrivals from six other countries  - South Africa, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe and Botswana - which had been added to the travel red list.

More information on international travel and quarantine


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