Scotland has recorded 43 deaths of coronavirus patients and 1,314 new cases in the past 24 hours, according to Scottish Government figures.
The death toll under this measure – of people who first tested positive for the virus within the previous 28 days – is now 4,416.
The daily test positivity rate is 5.3%, up from 5% on Wednesday.
A total of 116,870 people have tested positive in Scotland, up from 115,566 the previous day.
The number of new cases reported in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde was 334, while 234 were recorded in Lanarkshire, 203 in Lothian, 128 in Grampian and 112 in Tayside.
There are 1,008 people in hospital confirmed to have the virus, a fall of 17 in 24 hours.
Of these patients, 56 are in intensive care, the same number as the day before.
The figures come as Scots will be legally allowed to visit friends and family on Christmas day, but are urged only to do so if absolutely necessary.
Across the UK a general easing of restrictions will allow up to eight people from three households to meet indoors.
However, initial plans – which would allow the window for meeting to be between December 23 and 27 – were scaled back over fears a new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19 could drive case numbers and deaths up.
Scotland’s chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said on Twitter that new figures from the ONS showed the spread across London and the east and south east England to be growing due to the new strain, contributing to a rise of 80,000 cases between December 11 and December 18.
He said: “Latest ONS data shows how fast new variant coronavirus has spread & become predominant in S of England.
“I urge everyone in Scotland to take every step they can to prevent same happening here. Limiting contact with other households can help ensure it doesn’t get a hold here too.”
Dr Smith has been among the voices telling Scots to be cautious over the festive period, with both First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister Boris Johnson also calling for restraint in recent weeks.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway said a new, more transmissible strain of Covid-19 has been identified in the area, associated with an outbreak of cases in Wigtownshire.
The health board is urging people to show caution as it has been identified just before the easing of restrictions for Christmas Day.
Valerie White, interim director of public health in Dumfries and Galloway, said: “The presence of the new strain has been identified following further work by Public Health Scotland, who are undertaking additional investigation of cases of coronavirus infection across Scotland.
“A further second case of the new strain has been identified in the lower Annandale area.
“This is obviously very concerning news, and comes as we have been closely monitoring the situation nationally with respect to this new B.1.1.7 strain.
“We have learned of the presence of the new strain today, and have acted quickly to make people aware of this discovery.”
Support The Courier today.
The Courier is committed to delivering quality content to our communities and right now that’s more important than ever — which is why our key content is free. However, you can support us and access premium content by subscribing to The Courier from just £5.99 a month. Because Local Matters.Subscribe