First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned she will not rule out reimposing some restrictions if Covid cases do not start to fall.
At today’s daily briefing, she revealed that the highest number of cases in a single day has been recorded in the last 24 hours.
A total of 4,323 positive cases were reported – 14.% of all the tests carried out.
Ten deaths have also been recorded with one in Aberdeen, the Highlands and the Western Isles – taking Scotland’s toll to 8,080.
Highland recorded the highest number of new cases in the north and north-east with 102 while Aberdeen reported 93, Aberdeenshire 74, Moray 12, Shetland and the Western Isles both reported six and Orkney one.
However, the seven local authorities continue to be among the least affected parts of Scotland’s 32 regions by all being in the nine bottom places when ranked by the seven-day case rate per 100,000 people.
Highland is the highest at 24th, ahead of Angus and Perth and Kinross, with the other north and north-east regions in the bottom six places.
However, Ms Sturgeon admitted it was “likely” the rising cases nationwide would result in an increase in deaths.
“If the surge continues and if it accelerates and if we start to see evidence of a substantial increase in serious illness as a result, we cannot completely rule out having to reimpose some restrictions,” she said.
“Of course we hope not to have to do that, and if we did we would be as limited and proportionate as possible.”
She continued: “This is yet another fragile and potentially very pivotal moment in our journey through this pandemic.”
The news came as the Scottish Government confirmed an independent inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic will begin by the end of the year.
It will “scrutinise decisions taken in the course of this pandemic, and learn lessons for future pandemics”.
‘Please get vaccinated now’
During the briefing Ms Sturgeon praised the “genuinely remarkable uptake figures” for the vaccination, and said 80% of over 18s had received both doses, including 95% of over 40s.
However she said: “There are still eligible people out there who are not yet vaccinated and that does pose a risk.”
“Please do get vaccinated now,” she asked all over 16s.
“Cases have more than doubled over the past week and that is one of the sharpest rises we have experienced at any point during the pandemic.”
She however pointed out that more testing is done now than the early stages of the pandemic.
“We always knew that cases were likely to rise as restrictions eased and you heard us saying that from these platforms in recent weeks, but to give some context what we are seeing now is not entirely unexpected.
“That said, the scale of the increase is still a cause of real concern.
“Although context is important – we know that vaccinations are making a big difference and that explains why so many of the new cases we are seeing are in younger people, who are less likely to have both doses of the vaccine at this stage, around half of all new cases are under the age of 25.”
“We shouldn’t be complacent about that of course,” the First Minister went on, highlighting the risks of young people falling ill to long-Covid.
Vaccines key in living life ‘normal as possible’
With that, Ms Sturgeon pointed out that vaccination “doesn’t provide anyone of any age with 100% protection” – saying that one third of new cases had been in those double-jabbed.
However, she emphasised that the vaccine is key in people being able to live life “as close to normal as possible”.
She said: “Children need to go to school and learn and interact with their friends and businesses need to trade more normally – that is important for our economy.
“All of us, for our mental health and wellbeing need to be able to live more freely, to be able to live as close to normal as possible.”
‘We face a challenging period ahead’
She urged people to continue washing hands, wearing a mask, home working, meeting outdoors where possible and limiting contact with others – which she says will become “increasingly important” in the winter months.
“We have come a long way in our journey through this pandemic and it is important that we don’t lose sight of that, in so many ways because of vaccination, things are better.
“We once again face a challenging and fragile period ahead.
“Lets keep ourselves and our loved ones safe by following all of the advice and lets work to maintain the progress that we have worked so hard for.”