A SUSTAINED high level of COVID-19 cases was seen in Dumfries and Galloway again last week.
There were 168 new cases recorded in the region in the week ending Sunday July 11 – down just slightly from 181 the week before.
Close contacts decreased from 809 to 429, but a significant number of close contacts are going on to test positive for the coronavirus.
The latest data on case numbers in the region comes after First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced yesterday that as we enter Level 0 next week there are still continuing restrictions around the use of face coverings and physically distancing.
Addressing the latest case data, Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “Thankfully, we haven’t returned to a situation where COVID-19 cases were climbing at a significant rate.
“However, we are instead seeing new cases coming in at a regular but fairly high number.
“People’s actions in following the ongoing guidance about hand washing, wearing of face coverings, physical distancing and testing have undoubtedly helped to prevent a an even larger number of cases. We’re extremely grateful for their actions.
“This has helped support the vaccination programme to complete originally scheduled adult first dose vaccinations and continue making great progress on second doses and first doses to those still taking up the opportunity.
“The longer we can hold off any renewed increase in COVID-19 cases, the better placed the region will be as a whole to make a transition to what is likely to be a position of living our lives alongside the coronavirus.
“Getting both vaccinations helps provide a high degree of protection against the coronavirus, but it doesn’t guarantee full protection.
“You can still catch COVID-19 and transmit it, but the vaccination should mean most who receive the vaccination are protected against the worst effects, and it should hopefully help cut down the number of cases.”
Ms White added: “As set out on Tuesday by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, as we enter Level 0 next week there are still continuing restrictions aimed at trying to manage the number of new cases.
“One of these is the continued requirement to wear face coverings in enclosed public settings such as shops and on public transport.
“From 19 July the requirement for physical distancing in indoor public settings will reduce from two metres to one metre, and outdoors there will be requirement for one metre distancing between different groups of 15 people.
“We would ask everyone to continue to follow the restrictions and guidance which will be in place from Monday, and to consider what more they can do to suppress the numbers of cases in Dumfries and Galloway – so that we have the least possible impact on services.
“If you haven’t yet been vaccinated, please do take up the opportunity by either scheduling an appointment or attending one of the drop-in sessions. Please find full information at this address: www.nhsdg.co.uk/vaccines/ “
People are meanwhile reminded to immediately self-isolate along with their household and arrange to be tested if they experience even the mildest symptoms of COVID-19.
However, everyone is now being encouraged to take a quick twice-weekly test, either using free self-test kits within their workplace or own homes or by visiting a testing location.
These tests give very quick results, and help provide an assurance around early or unseen spread of COVID-19. Anyone who is planning to see someone who is vulnerable, or who is planning to visit someone in hospital, is encouraged to take up regular testing. Although the virus might not affect one individual too badly, it could pose a very serious threat to the next person it encounters.
Please visit the following website to find the full range of testing opportunities available within Dumfries and Galloway, including a list of local pharmacists where you can simply pop in and pick up a free testing kit for your own peace of mind: www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing
A comprehensive collection of locally-originated advice on how to protect yourself and others over the summer months has been developed by the local Public Health team, and is also now available by visiting the website www.nhsdg.co.uk/covid-19/