It comes as three more cases were identified in the country, bringing the total number of Scotland’s Omicron cases to nine, and the total UK number to 21, as 13 cases have now been identified in England.
According to Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf, five of the cases in Scotland were identified in the Lanarkshire area and four in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.
Updating the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday, Sturgeon said, “None of these individuals—as far as we know—has recent travel history to or known links with others who have travelled to the countries in southern Africa where the variant was originally detected.
“However, while the contact tracing exercise is still ongoing, health protection teams have established that all nine cases are linked,” she added.
The first minister said all the known cases “trace back to a single private event on Nov. 20,” adding that the government “fully expect[s]” to identify more cases linked to the event.
She also said the link suggested that while there has been community transmission of the Omicron variant in Scotland, it may still be “limited.”
Responding to speculations that the cases may be linked to the recent climate summit, Sturgeon said the theory is being investigated but is “improbable.”
“Given the nature and scale of COP26, the surveillance work that Public Health Scotland is doing is also looking at any potential links to it,” she told MSPs.
“At this stage, however, there is no evidence whatsoever of any such link, and, while it is not impossible that one will emerge, I think the timelines involved make it improbable.”
Yousaf also told the BBC’s “Good Morning Scotland” programme that there’s currently no evidence linking the Scottish cases to a recent rugby match in South Africa.
Sturgeon told MSPs that the overall CCP virus infection levels in Scotland have been falling, with a reduction of 15 percent in new cases recorded over the last week.
The first minister said she hopes the “level of concern” will be diminished as more information emerges about the new variant, adding, “It is prudent at this stage to contemplate and prepare for something less positive than that.”
Rather than bring in new restrictions, Sturgeon said she would ask the public to “significantly step up and increase compliance with existing protections.”
The Scottish government kept its mask mandate in certain settings when most restrictions were removed on Aug. 9, meaning people aged 12 years and over are required to wear face coverings in indoor public spaces such as shops and schools.
Vaccine passports are also required for entering night clubs and large events.