Scotland's Sturgeon says more concerned about COVID than any time since March

FILE PHOTO: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon looks on at the parliament, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Edinburgh, Scotland, Britain, December 22, 2020. REUTERS/Russell Cheyne/Pool

LONDON (Reuters) - The COVID-19 situation is more concerning than any time since last March, Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Monday, announcing a new lockdown in response to a highly transmissible variant of the coronavirus.

Sturgeon said the new variant accounts for nearly half of new cases in Scotland, and is 70% more transmissible, as she announced a legal requirement for Scots to stay at home from midnight.

“As a result of this new variant, (the virus) has just learned to run much faster, and has most definitely picked up pace in the past couple of weeks,” Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament.

“It is no exaggeration to say that I am more concerned about the situation that we face now than I have been at any time since March.”

Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge and Alistair Smout; Editing by Kate Holton