LEVELS of Covid infection in Scotland could be “substantially higher” than the one in 30 people who are estimated to have the virus, an expert has warned.

Professor Rowland Kao said the lack of surveillance monitoring meant infection levels were unknown.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has estimated that one in 30 people in Scotland had coronavirus in the week ending June 10 – the second week in a row that infection numbers have risen.

Scotland also has higher numbers of cases than the other nations of the UK, with infection levels in England put at one in 50 people by the ONS, while in Wales and Northern Ireland one in 45 were estimated to have the disease.

Public health expert Professor Linda Bauld has already told how Scotland is experiencing another wave of Covid-19 infections.

And Professor Kao, an epidemiology expert from Edinburgh University, said that infection levels were “probably” higher than the one in 30 that the ONS has estimated.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Prof Kao said: “One of the things is that we actually don’t know how much Covid is out there, because we no longer do surveillance for it.

“So that one in 30 is probably substantially higher.”

He said rising Covid numbers were linked to the emergence of a new variant “which is slightly different from the Omicron variant which was spreading earlier this year, which is now becoming more prevalent”.

This version of the virus is now the predominant one in the US, he added, saying: “We think it is probably more transmissible than the previous variant, so that is one of the big things.”

But he also said governments were “doing very, very little to control the virus right now”, which could also be contributing to the increase in cases.

Prof Kao said: “We’re essentially going about our daily businesses as usual and we are not testing.

“And that not testing means we are not even able to pick up the disease, we also don’t know how much is out there.”

While he stressed “any talk of a lockdown right now is not appropriate”, he added that people should try to isolate if they have cold-like symptoms.

The expert told people: “One of the most important things is if you think you have Covid or something like it – and remember current versions do seem to be similar to the common cold – is to isolate, to put yourself out of circulation.

“By far, removing people who are infectious from contact with others is the most important thing we can do to prevent the transmission of disease.”

Going to work with common cold symptoms “really would be a bad idea at this point”, he said.

“For most of us Covid is relatively minor, we don’t have too many symptoms, but people are still getting long Covid, so even healthy people can have quite severe symptoms for a while and some people are at risk of severe illness and death.”

He advised: “The key thing is, if you have symptoms you should try to isolate, even if you are not sure it is Covid.

“If you can get a test, get a test. But if you can’t, try to keep away from other people.”