Nicola Sturgeon's Covid-19 'elimination' strategy is not going well, a public health health expert has said as it emerged coronavirus has started spreading within Scotland's schools.
Prof Linda Bauld, of Edinburgh University, told the Telegraph Ms Sturgeon had not abandoned her original strategy to drive the virus to the lowest possible level but an increase in cases meant "it's not going very well."
Although she did not like the term, the academic said the First Minister was now "absolutely" also using the so-called "whack-a-mole" strategy adopted in England and on the Continent to tackle local outbreaks.
Boris Johnson has coined the term, which refers to a fairground game involving hitting fake moles with a mallet, to describe speedily tackling local flare-ups in England.
Prof Bauld said the First Minister had no option but to adopt the approach to deal with outbreaks in two of Scotland's largest cities, Glasgow and Aberdeen.
Her intervention came as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said there was evidence of transmission of the virus among a small number of cases in school settings but they were being "carefully managed".
The board said the schools would not be identified and no further details released "to respect and maintain patient confidentiality."
Ms Sturgeon had previously said that community transmission was responsible for cases in schools, with young people attending house parties blamed.
The disclosure came the day after the First Minister unveiled restrictions covering more than 800,000 people - 15 per cent of Scotland's population - in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire. The area includes her own Glasgow home.
In what she described as a "wake-up call" for the entire country, she said people in the affected areas must not visit other households or host guests in their homes except in emergencies.
Susan Aitken, the SNP leader of Glasgow City Council, warned nearly 200 schools in the city could be shut if the crackdown does not work.
She said restrictions were a "first step" and could be extended next week if they do not succeed in tackling the outbreak.
In June Ms Sturgeon said Scotland was "not far away" from eliminating the virus and the following month she claimed it was five times less prevalent in Scotland than England, a boast that prompted an official reprimand from the statistics watchdog for being unsubstantiated.
But she announced 156 new cases on Wednesday, more than half of which (86) were in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area.
While across Scotland the number of positive cases of coronavirus is 9.2 per 100,000 people, in Glasgow it was 21.8, in East Renfrewshire 18.8, and in West Dunbartonshire 32.6.
Prof Bauld praised the restrictions imposed by the Scottish Government as "light touch" and proportionate, saying they targeted the cause of the outbreak.
She rejected criticism that pubs and businesses had been allowed to stay open in Glasgow, saying that unlike in Aberdeen the outbreak had been driven by indoor gatherings rather than the hospitality sector.
The academic said Ms Sturgeon's elimination strategy had sent a "clear message" of what the First Minister wanted to achieve but added: "The problem is when you ease lockdown, cases go up."
Willie Rennie, the Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, told First Minister's Questions: "Infection rates in the west of Scotland are now higher than in most of England or in countries such as Greece and Portugal, for which we have just imposed quarantine measures.
"I am worried that we do not seem to be on top of it. First, we locked down Aberdeen, with city-wide measures. Now, we are restricting a whole region of almost one million people. What are we not getting right?"
Ms Sturgeon assured him Scotland's Test and Protect contact tracing system was up to scratch, saying it had effectively contained the outbreaks in Aberdeen and the 2 Sisters food processing plant in Coupar Angus.
She said: "The restrictions that are now in place in the west of Scotland have been in place for some weeks in the north-west of England, in places such as Manchester. Many parts of Europe have restrictions that are even more stringent."