THE Scottish Government is being urged to “press pause” on the easing of lockdown restrictions following a steep rise in recorded daily cases.

Dr Eleanor Gaunt, a virologist and research fellow at Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute, said the country is in a “very delicate situation” – with the First Minister urging the public “keep working together” to “avoid the virus running ahead of the vaccine”.

It comes as Scotland recorded its highest ever number of daily cases, 3285.

The daily test positivity rate is 12.6%, up from 8.9% the previous day, and is the highest figure since 14.8% was recorded on January 8.

Dr Gaunt told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We’re seeing right now an increase in cases – not just a linear increase in the number of cases, but they are really rapidly rising, and we don't know what the consequences of that are going to be as yet, so we're in a very delicate situation.

“We should be proceeding with the highest level of caution.

“Right now we are not in a position of control, so we just need to press pause effectively and let the vaccination programme catch up with the number of cases and get the situation back under control.”

Her comments come as the Scottish Government is set to give their weekly Covid update in parliament.

Yesterday, in an unscheduled update, the First Minister addressed the public on social media urging people to take “extra caution”.

She said: “We’re seeing a steep rise in Covid cases in Scotland right now, as we face the faster transmitting Delta strain of the virus.

“The good news is that vaccines are providing significant protection, we’re not at this stage seeing a commensurate rise in the numbers of people in hospital or becoming seriously ill from this virus, but it’s important that we are not complacent.”

No new deaths were recorded, meaning the toll under this daily measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – remains at 7,712.

A total of 202 people were in hospital on Sunday with recently confirmed Covid-19 with 20 patients in intensive care.

Dr Gaunt added: “There's also the risk of new variants. If we put the virus into a high-pressure situation, where it's circulating in a partially-vaccinated population, then there's the risk that a variant emerges that's able to evade vaccine-induced immunity.”

So far, 3,765,379 people have received the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccination and 2,691,775 have received their second dose.

Ms Sturgeon added: “There are still many people who don’t yet have both doses of the vaccine, we’re going as fast as we can, but we still have a significant proportion of the population that is not fully vaccinated.

“So if we are to avoid the virus running ahead of the vaccine, it’s really important that all of us take care and be cautious so I’m asking everybody across Scotland at this crucial time as we look ahead hopefully to the finishing line to do all of the things that help slow the virus down.

“Make sure you are keeping at a safe distance from people in other households, make sure you are washing your hands and surfaces regularly, please wear your face coverings and stay outdoors if you are seeing people in other households as much as possible, because that lowers the risk of transmission.

“So let’s all keep working together to slow the virus down, while we allow the vaccination programme to get ahead. That will get us safely to the end point if we all pull together, for this next period. Thank you very much.”