Spike in Glasgow cases ‘will not lead to local lockdown’

A spike in new cases of coronavirus in the Glasgow area, with seven in one care home, is not being regarded as a cluster which would warrant bringing back stricter lockdown measures Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Shoppers wearing face masks  in Glasgow. Picture: John DevlinShoppers wearing face masks  in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin
Shoppers wearing face masks in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

The First Minister said that a steep hike of 19 new cases of Covid-19 in Scotland announced on Sunday was partially due to asymptomatic cases in the greater Glasgow area, with 12 connected to the city. However both she and the National Clinical Director, Professor Jason Leitch, said fears of a community outbreak, similar to that in Dumfries and Galloway, were unfounded.

Sunday was the second consecutive day when new cases in Scotland were higher than they had been for several weeks - but no new deaths have been recorded for five days in a row. It followed further easing of the lockdown, such as outdoor hospitality resuming on Wednesday and households being able to meet indoors, and followed a similar spike in new cases on Friday which had seen 18 new cases recorded by the Scottish Government.

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At the government’s daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said: “I think it is perhaps worth noting that on both Friday and on Sunday we saw higher numbers of new cases than has been the norm in recent weeks. On any occasion where there is an increase like that, I want to give an assurance that we look very very thoroughly to see if there are any patterns or particular causes for concern.

“With respect to the 19 cases reported yesterday, we know that 12 of these cases were in Glasgow and seven of those, all of which were asymptomatic cases, related to one single care home. Now that is being looked at in much more detail and all necessary follow-up tests, checks and precautions are being undertaken.”

She warned that “the virus will spread again if we give it a chance, half a chance, a quarter of a chance,” and added: “All of the appropriate steps are being taken including testing, other checks and all of the precautions that you would expect. We’ll be looking very closely at that situation in the days to come.”

A total of 12 people were infected in the cross-border cluster which was discovered in Annan and Gretna last month and caused a local lockdown.

Professor Leitch also said there was “no suggestion of clusters”. He added: “There’s no suggestion there’s a localised community outbreak. “No suggestion of clusters as we had in Gretna and Annan. A number were asymptomtic which means they’re usually not as infective, so don’t spread the disease, but still could. So we’re cautious but not worried about those two increases.”

Details of which care home, and where it is situated in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board area, have not been revealed. Ms Sturgeon said: “If more information which might be necessary to put in the public domain at a later stage we will do that. We are testing care home workers more regularly so we can expect to see more of that if the infection is out there in that way.”

Health Secretary Jeane Freeman also confirmed reports from Scottish Care, the body which represents the independent care sector, that some GPs and directors of public health have refused to test people going into care homes from the community, against the Scottish Government’s policy.

“The guidance and the requirement is crystal clear on this,” Ms Freeman said. “If you are to be admitted to a care home, unless there is a clinical reason not to do this, then there should be one negative test before that admission and then the individual needs to be nursed and looked after in their own room in isolation for the 14 days to be absolutely sure that - even with a negative test - no symptoms are going to be developed.”

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Ms Freeman said she had spoken to Scottish Care’s chief executive, Dr Donald Macaskill, and that while the problem was “not widespread” “there are some cases GPs or directors of public health assessing whether or not individuals who are to be admitted to a care home from the community are to be tested.

“Once we’ve finalised all the details with Dr Macaskill I will be making it clear to all parts of the health service exactly what it is they are required to do.”

However Scottish Labour said that as care homes were still at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic the Scottish Government’s “failure to deliver regular testing of care home staff and residents” was “irresponsible” and “putting them at risk”.

Recent data has shown that only three-fifths of the care home workforce and 6.4 per cent of care home residents are being routinely tested. The party’s health and social care spokesperson Monica Lennon said: “News of a new coronavirus outbreak in a Greater Glasgow care home is extremely worrying.

“The Scottish Government promised the regular testing of care home staff eight weeks ago and are still failing to deliver this. To protect those that live and work in our care homes and prevent further outbreaks, it is vital that the Scottish Government urgently expands testing with immediate effect.”

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