Scottish health boards 'concerned' at case numbers as R number rises

Grampian and Tayside health boards have raised concerns and introduced new restrictions as case numbers rise and the R number has increased.

The R number – the average number of people someone with Covid passes the virus on to – has risen to somewhere between 1.2 and 1.4.

An average of 816 cases a day were reported in the week to June 10 – an increase of more than a third on the week before. Some 4.1 per cent of tests are now reporting as positive.

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The biggest increase of cases has been in the 20-39 age group, many of whom have not yet had a dose of Covid-19 vacccine.

Staff from the Scottish Ambulance Service carry boxes of test kits at a mobile Covid testing unit. Picture: PA Media.
Staff from the Scottish Ambulance Service carry boxes of test kits at a mobile Covid testing unit. Picture: PA Media.

At a national level hospital, bed and ICU occupancy are projected to rise over the next few weeks, according to modelling from the Scottish Government.

NHS Tayside has tightened restrictions on hospital visits in an effort to reduce spread, with just one visitor allowed from Saturday, in accordance with level two restrictions, despite the fact that Tayside is now in level one.

NHS Tayside’s director of nursing and midwifery, Claire Pearce, said, “Due to rising cases of Covid-19 in Tayside, it is vital that we keep our patients, staff and the public safe. I would ask all visitors to carefully follow the guidance and infection control measures that are in place.

“We understand that these changes to visiting may be upsetting, but we have made this decision in the best interests of our patients.

“Where appropriate we will continue to offer virtual visiting for patients using telephones, tablets and laptops to allow people to keep in touch with their loved ones.”

NHS Grampian warned it had seen a “rising number” of young people not taking up their Covid-19 vaccine when invited.

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The health board called on locals to pull together to reduce case numbers, as was achieved during recent outbreaks in Moray.

Dr Derek Cox, consultant in public health, said: “At the end of May, we were seeing case numbers sitting around eight or nine a day. We are now seeing daily cases at three times that.

"We need to take action now, before we ‘catch up’ with other parts of the country.

“The highly infectious Delta variant is now the dominant strain in Grampian, accounting for some 80 per cent of cases.”

He added: “I know there will be those who will point to the very low numbers of people currently in hospital and say we are making an undue fuss.

"The simple fact is, the third wave is here, but we have a window of opportunity to slow it’s progress across Grampian and give as many people as possible the opportunity to get both doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

"Our choices right now will determine how quickly we can progress towards something approaching a normal life once again.”

Dundee has the highest seven-day case rate of Covid-19 in Scotland, with 272 cases per 100,000 people, compared to 110 across Scotland.

A total of 1,104 new cases were reported across Scotland on Friday, while 132 people were in hospital and 13 were in intensive care.

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