East Ayrshire’s Covid case rate has almost doubled in a week, with the area now recording close to 2,000 cases a week.

The latest data available from Public Health Scotland shows that there were 1,772 positive tests returned between December 22-28. That’s an increase from 990 the week before.

The true current weekly total is probably significantly higher than this too, as PHS have not published any updates since December 31 due to public holidays.

However, despite rocketing case numbers, hospitalisations and ICU admissions in the Ayrshire and Arran health board area have not increased at the same rate as they did with previous variants of the virus. As of January 4 there were 106 people in hospital in Ayrshire with a Covid-related illness. There were less than five people in ICU.

Studies have shown that those infected are anywhere between 30-70 per cent less likely to become hospitalised after catching it.

However, if the number of cases keeps increasing, the worry is that although the Omicron variant is less severe, the sheer number of people it might affect will lead to many more hospitalisations, putting increasing strain on an already stretched health sector.

As of December 31, 93 per cent of those aged over 12 had had at least one dose of a Covid vaccine, 85.6 per cent had had two, and 64.6 per cent had been boostered too.

Protection after receiving a booster is said to wane after about 10 weeks, but immunity

from severe illness as a result of catching the virus is said to last much longer.