Nicola Sturgeon has announced that Omicron will become the dominant variant in Scotland tomorrow after cases sharply rose over the last week.
The First Minister revealed that 5,951 new cases of the deadly virus were identified across the country in the last 24-hour period.
Of the new cases 45.4 per cent were the new strain which was first identified in southern Africa at the end of last month.
During an announcement to MSPs at Holyrood Sturgeon strongly advised people to stay at home to prevent the spread of Omicron.
She told MSPs: "5,951 cases were reported yesterday - 45.4% of cases now show the S-Gene dropout, indicative of Omicron.
"It therefore seems likely that by tomorrow, Omicron will be the dominant strain circulating in Scotland.
"Because of Omicron's much higher transmissibility, this will drive an even more rapid increase in cases. Omicron is spreading exceptionally fast, much faster than anything experienced in this pandemic."
The SNP leader also asked Scots to stay at home in bid to halt the spread of the virus.
She said: "Please reduce your contact with people from households other than your own as much as you possibly can. For now, please stay at home much more than you normally would.
"Right now, the risk of getting Covid from interactions with others is high and rising.
"So ask yourself before doing anything you might have planned over the coming days - is it as safe as it needs to be, and is it vital enough to justify that risk.
"I suspect what is most important to most of us over the next couple of weeks is having time with our families at Christmas.
"Every interaction we have before then increases the risk of us getting Covid and so possibly losing that."
Sturgeon also announced she has written to Boris Johnson asking for more financial support to combat Omicron.
The First Minister told the Scottish Parliament she was "acutely aware of and deeply concerned about the considerable impact" on businesses of her government's advice for people to limit social interaction.
She said businesses need the "scale of financial support" that was available earlier in the pandemic.
But she added: "However, there are simply no mechanisms available to the devolved administrations to trigger the scale of finance needed to support such schemes.
"We need the UK Government to act urgently and in the same way some other countries are already doing."
She said the issue needs the "urgent engagement of the Prime Minister and the Chancellor".
"We must not sleepwalk into an emergency that for both health and business will be much greater as a result of inaction than it will be if we act firmly and strongly now," she said.
"I have therefore written to the Prime Minister this morning appealing to him to put the necessary support schemes in place. Such is the urgency I've asked to speak to him directly later today."
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