A MASSIVE surge of COVID-19 cases in Dumfries and Galloway is being fuelled by the new variant – with data revealing rates far above those across the rest of Scotland.
Cases of COVID multiplied more than six times in a single week to end at 801 in the week ending January 3, with most recent analysis revealing that 89 per cent of cases tested through mobile testing units were the new, much more highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant.
This compares to Scotland as a whole, where the average rate of the B.1.1.7 variant is 54 per cent of new infections.
A very difficult decision was made yesterday to suspend some elective NHS procedures in Dumfries and Galloway, with rates of infection and admissions to hospital increasing.
NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “The challenge we face as a region is unlike anything we’ve confronted to date. In short, the impact of this new variant is a complete and dramatic game changer.
“The latest data shows the new variant accounts for nearly 90 per cent of our cases tested through the Mobile Testing Units.
“In the space of just two or three short weeks, we’ve seen Dumfries and Galloway with its population of about 150,000 people move from being a region with some of the lowest rates of COVID to being near the top across the whole of Scotland in terms of infection rates.
“Our region has been fantastic to date in beating this virus, but we now have the challenge of our lifetime facing us.
“Although this new strain is incredibly highly transmissible, COVID does not move around and infect new people by itself; the risk is controlled by us and our contact with others.
“We’re a region of families, friends and communities, but as difficult as it is we need to stay apart as much as possible and do everything we can to protect Dumfries and Galloway. The two metre rule has never been more important, but the message now across Scotland as a whole is key – to save lives, stay at home.
“Currently, data is revealing that in addition to the hundreds of confirmed cases of the new variant there could be still many more cases across the region, some of whom will be asymptomatic, potentially spreading that infection without their knowledge.”
“Yesterday, due to the rates of infection and severe pressures on our health and social care systems, a decision was made to suspend some elective procedures in Dumfries and Galloway.
“This is not a decision taken lightly.
“However, admissions to hospital are increasing, and if we follow the current trajectory we can expect to see our services put under strain like never before.
“This does not impact just on those who might contract COVID-19, but has consequences for how we provide essential care for those who need it for any reason, whether that’s heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, etc.
“This is a message to you, as an individual. Everyone has a responsibility here. There can be no ‘it’s just me’ exceptions. This new variant offers no margin for that risk, by anyone.
“Please, though, know that our health and social care services are still here to help, and are geared to protect against COVID, so do not hesitate to get in touch if you have a medical condition. Do, though, consider the best first point of help.
“Also, please note that our vaccination programme is rolling out at pace, so there is hope.
“But we do face very difficult times ahead, and we can only stop this if we all play our part – every single one of us.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 are:
- Raised temperature
- New continuous cough
Change to or loss of sense of taste and/or smell
If you experience symptoms of COVID-19, even if mild, please self isolate with your household and book a test. The test and protect team will follow up with you to identify close contacts. Those close contacts will be notified of the need to self isolate by a text message if a mobile phone number is available or via telephone to a landline if a mobile number is not present. Please do follow the advice of this text. For further information on Test and Protect please visit NHS Inform: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19/test-and-protect/coronavirus-covid-19-contact-tracing
This website provides information on how to know it is a legitimate text from Test and Protect.
For advice on symptoms and self management for COVID 19 visit NHS Inform website on: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/infections-and-poisoning/coronavirus-covid-19
If you have severe or worsening symptoms contact NHS 24 (111) or phone 999 if you have a medical emergency, letting them know if you have COVID-19, have been a close contact of someone with COVID-19 or suspect you might have it.