Professor Hugh Pennington says Lanarkshire Covid-19 cluster 'no surprise'

Health officials are investigating a cluster of positive cases of the virus at a Motherwell call centre.

A cluster of Covid-19 infections at a call centre in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, is unsurprising, one of Britain’s leading epidemiologists has said.

Speaking to BBC Good Morning Scotland, Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said: “I’m not surprised to hear about a cluster because that’s the way this virus behaves.

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“It’s done that in all the other countries that we have good records for, that getting on for half the cases do occur in outbreaks and some of them can be quite big.”

A cluster of Covid-19 infections at a call centre in Motherwell, Lanarkshire, is unsurprising, one of Britain’s leading epidemiologists has said.

The Sitel call centre, which is contracted to carry out contact tracing on behalf of the NHS, said it was “urgently investigating” a “local outbreak” at its office in Motherwell, Lanarkshire.

The company said it had requested all its staff working at the office to be tested for the virus.

“This is clearly not a particular surprise that we have a cluster of cases in Scotland because we know the virus has not gone away,” Professor Pennington explained, “but it’s a bit disappointing we’ve got these two days where we’ve got more than 20 cases.

“For quite a long time now we’ve been seeing most parts of Scotland recording no new cases at all.”

He added that it is too early to tell whether the jump in cases is due to the easing of lockdown measures, and said that carrying out more testing will also pick up more cases.

The Scottish government said contact tracing is under way following the detection of "a small number of potentially linked cases in North Lanarkshire".

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"Where potential clusters of cases develop we must find them and act quickly to prevent further spread and we are grateful to local partners for their swift response," a spokesman said.

The spokesman said "a small increase in the number of cases is not unexpected as lockdown is lifted".

The news comes after the Scottish government confirmed another rise in the daily coronavirus figures on Sunday afternoon.

The number of new coronavirus cases in Scotland rose to 23 - the highest daily figure since 26 were reported on June 21.

Cases have steadily risen each day since Tuesday, when three were reported.

There have now been a total of 18,455 positive cases of coronavirus in Scotland since the start of the outbreak.

302 of those were being treated in hospital as of last night - three in intensive care, along with another person who is suspected to have the virus.

The total number of people who have died from Covid-19 stands at 2,491.

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