An extra 20 military personnel are being drafted in to support NHS Ayrshire & Arran which is under pressure from the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The Scottish Government said that the personnel will help the health board, as well as NHS Grampian and NHS Lanarkshire.

It will have support from 20 service personnel for six weeks.

The Scottish Government will begin inductions at the boards on January 7 after the Military Assistance for Civilian Authorities (MACA) support was approved by the body.

The personnel will join 221 members of the armed forces who have been supporting the vaccine programme across Scotland, while 96 are driving ambulances in support of the Scottish Ambulance service.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said: “The emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is adding to the winter pressures usually faced by the NHS which is why boards, like their counterparts across the UK, have requested military support to complement our existing resources.

“I’m grateful to military personnel for their efforts at this time, along with all frontline staff in our NHS for the vital role they play in help keeping us safe.

“At this time it is also particularly important that we continue to take all precautions to prevent transmission.

“So test regularly for the virus, limit socialising in the run-up to Christmas, wear face marks where required and open windows to improve ventilation.”

Military personnel were previously called in to help NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Borders in October amid pressures on the health service.

There will be 38 in NHS Grampian and 32 in NHS Lanarkshire, with both areas receiving four weeks of support.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence, said: “The UK Armed Forces are increasing their support to the Scottish NHS, providing 84 defence medics to the NHS boards in Lanarkshire, Grampian, and Ayrshire and Arran.

“This is in addition to 221 personnel already contributing to the vaccination programme in Scotland and the further 96 personnel who continue to support the Scottish Ambulance Service.”