Covid in Glasgow: What is causing the increase in cases?

Concern has been raised over rising cases of Covid-19 in Glasgow, centred on the south of the city.

The Scottish Government has said it is “closely monitoring” the situation, but hopes the area will make it into level two restrictions with the rest of mainland Scotland on Monday.

Pollokshields and Govanhill are particularly affected, with the rate of Covid cases in parts of Pollokshields now more than 20 times that of Scotland as a whole.

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But what is the cause of this new outbreak?

A worker installs a sign asking people to social distance at a walk-through Covid-19 testing centre in Glasgow. Photo by ANDREW MILLIGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
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A rise in cases across Scotland has been anticipated, as asymptomatic testing has been increased and will pick up cases which before would have gone unnoticed.

Cases were also expected to rise in the wake of the ban on travel around Scotland being eased in mid April, and then the nationwide move to level three at the end of April, with shops, pubs and restaurants opening and much more mixing between people.

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However, cases in Glasgow have risen more than in the rest of the country, which has led to concern.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said the spike was mainly down to mixing between households.

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She warned some people had not been following the Covid-19 restrictions, and in particular people appeared to be following level two rules before the city formally went into that band of restrictions.

Another potential cause of the outbreak is spread of the “India” variant of Covid-19, known as B16172.

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Dr de Caestecker said it was too soon to say for sure the new cases were of this variant, as genomic sequencing has yet to be carried out, but there are fears that it might be.

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While not enough is known yet about this variant, it may be more easily transmitted than the ‘Kent’ variant in circulation.

Professor Linda Bauld, of Edinburgh University, attributed the outbreak to UK’s slow move to put India on the “red” travel list, as while arrivals from India to Scotland had to stay in a quarantine hotel, this could be avoided by travelling to an English airport and crossing the border to Scotland.

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So far 35 cases of the variant have been identified in Scotland, which are all believed to be associated with international travel.

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