A spike in coronavirus infections in Glasgow could include one of the new Indian variants of the virus, a public health expert has warned.
Speaking about the so-called B16172 variant, Professor Linda Bauld said “this may be some of the cases” in the south side of the city.
The Edinburgh University expert added there has been a “big rise in cases in those communities”, warning the Indian variant “may be even more transmissible” that the form of Covid which spread throughout Scotland this winter, during the second wave of the pandemic.
She added that if this is the case, the response from the Test and Protect contract tracing service “needs to be super-robust”.
Prof Bauld also suggested that household mixing could be responsible for the rise in cases in Glasgow.
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Thursday, she said: “There has been a big rise in cases in those communities, so as we look ahead to Monday when there is going to be a lot of easing, questions will be asked about what is the profile of those cases when it comes to variants and what do we do to try to get on top of what looks like a cluster of outbreaks linked to household transmission.”
Prof Bauld stressed it is not for her to decide if Glasgow should have restrictions eased to Level 2 along with most of the rest of Scotland on Monday.
So far only Moray is unlikely to drop down a level under the Scottish Government’s five-tier system, due to high number of Covid-19 infections there.
Cases in Glasgow are at 70.9 per 100,000 people, Thursday’s data shows.
Across the country, one coronavirus death and 270 new cases were recorded in the past 24 hours.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said the situation in Glasgow is being monitored “very closely”.
Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “We are seeing an increase in cases in Glasgow just now and, amidst concern about the so-called Indian variant, we are monitoring it very closely.”
It comes as most of mainland Scotland prepares to move to Level 2 restrictions from May 17 – meaning people will once again be able to visit others inside their homes, with up to six people from up to three households allowed to gather indoors.
A further relaxation of the rules for the hospitality industry is also due then, with pubs and restaurants allowed to serve alcohol indoors, while cinemas and theatres will also be permitted to reopen.
Asked if Glasgow should move to Level 2, Prof Bauld said: “It is for policy colleagues to decide what happens.
“There is over 600,000 people living in Glasgow city authority, it seems perhaps premature to say once again… the whole city can’t move.
“I think a localised approach, concentrating on identification and support of cases, is the first step. But obviously others will be making those decisions.
“We all need to try to follow the guidance and when more things open next week, do that really, really cautiously, just to make sure that we don’t have more community transmission, which at the moment looks like it is mostly in younger people.
“There is still very few people in hospital but remember there is a time lag to hospitalisation and that is what none of us want to see.”