WEST Dunbartonshire now has one of the highest Covid infection rates in the UK according to new figures.

Growing numbers of local areas across the UK are recording their highest rates of new cases of Covid-19 since comparable records began, as the third wave of coronavirus continues to pick up pace across the country, new figures have shown.

The figures come amid warnings of a further increase in the spread of the virus in coming weeks, with pupils either back at school or soon to return and a busy calendar of sport and music events likely to attract large crowds.

West Dunbartonshire had 790.1 cases per 100,000 people for the week to August 22, according to Public Health Scotland - a rate which has now risen to 866.

The highest for the whole of the UK in the week to August 22 was Fermanagh and Omagh in Northern Ireland (1,047.4), followed by Derry City and Strabane (968.2).

The highest in England for the week to August 22 was 828.1 in Cornwall and the Isle of Scilly.

Nicola Sturgeon has since given her second Covid update of the week today as cases around the country continue to rise. 

It comes just three days after the first minister's last briefing, during which she urged the public to stay vigilant amidst surging cases and warned she could not rule out the reintroduction of restrictions. 

She was joined by Professor Jason Leitch to field questions from the media as the spoke from St Andrew's House in Edinburgh. 

Rates in Scotland have seen a steep increase in recent days as cases more than doubled compared to the previous week, one of the sharpest rises of the entire pandemic. 

On Tuesday Chief Medical Office Gregor Smith suggested this was due to "a catch up phase", with the virus surging through Scotland following the easing of restrictions. 

There have been rumours circulating that the Scottish Government is considering a circuit lockdown to halt the spread of the virus, however such a measure has not been introduced today. 

Here's 4 things we learned for the first minister's briefing on Friday afternoon...

1. Scotland is not going into a circuit breaker lockdown 

Rumours circulating over the past few days suggested that the Scottish government was going to introduce a circuit breaker lockdown to try and get control of the rising numbers. 

However, this measure was not announced at today's update, with the first minister and her advisors still hopeful that cases will begin to level out over the next few days. 

She confirmed that the government is not currently considering a circuit breaker lockdown, despite reports in the media. 

2. People should not forget basic mitigation measures

Like on Tuesday, the first minister urged people to tighten up and stick to the basic mitigation measures that became part of our everyday lives in the midst of the pandemic. 

She advised that simple measures such as washing your hands regularly, using hand sanitiser, wearing masks and keeping inside areas well ventilated by opening windows can go a long way in helping to mitigate the spread of the virus. 

Meanwhile she refreshed her plea for people to meet outside where possible, with people far less likely to catch or spread the virus outside. 

In addition, with lateral flow tests now readily available, the first minister encouraged people to stay on top of testing and continue to report results, to help the government identify local hotspots. 

She also urged people to think about how many people we are interacting with at the moment and avoid physical contact, such as hand shaking. 

3. Three key steps to reduce mitigation of the virus

The first minister said there are three key steps to reduce the spread of the virus.

These are:

  • Get vaccinated
  • Test yourself regularly using free lateral flow tests available to pick up or through the post
  • Continue to follow all rules that are still in place, limited though they are at this point

4. Cases in Scotland are rising steeply 

The rising Covid cases in Scotland have been discussed frequently in recent days after Nicola Sturgeon warned on Tuesday that she could not rule out reintroducing restrictions if the surge continued. 

The first minister confirmed today that 6,835 cases were recorded in Scotland yesterday, as well as 412 people in hospital with Covid and a further 4 deaths.

It means that over the past 7-days Scotland has recorded more cases than at any point during the pandemic. 

Around third of new cases at the moment are among those who have been vaccinated. 

Jason Leitch said that although deaths are still tragically happening, the numbers are much lower than they would have been pre-vaccination.