Coronavirus in Scotland: West Lothian infection rates causing concern

Nicola Sturgeon has said public officials are paying close attention to the rapid rise in coronavirus cases in the West Lothian area, after outbreaks at Addiewell prison and a Livingston primary school.

The First Minister said the case rate in the area was far higher compared to the average position, but it had been driven by specific outbreaks, such as that in Peel Primary.

She said there was no reason to suggest West Lothian would not move to the same level as the rest of Scotland when restrictions lift.

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“Though the case numbers remain high they are starting to decline and we’ll keep a close eye on it,” she said.

There has been a marked rise in cases in West Lothian
There has been a marked rise in cases in West Lothian

“At this stage I wouldn’t say by the time we get to the end of April, West Lothian would be in a different level to the rest of the country. There’s no reason to think that at the moment, though we have a level system for a reason.”

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The latest Public Health Scotland data revealed West Lothian had just 14 new infections as of March 28, but over the week between March 20-26 there were another 290 infections, with a new total of 7,676 since March last year.

The figures meant the region had a positivity rate of 158 per 100,000, just over double the national average of 69.1, and is the most infectious area in Scotland.

Chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith

At the government Covid briefing, chief medical officer, Dr Gregor Smith said the outbreaks had affected the area’s case numbers “very significantly”, but there had been pro-active outreach, with mass asymptomatic testing “and we’ve seen this decline over the last few days”.

National clinical director Professor Jason Leitch said: “We have to look at local authority data over time, so West Lothian is down 38 per 100,000 over seven days in the last week, while Moray is up 64 – though still below West Lothian, so we have to look at each local authority on its own.

“And we have to do it over time and if we can find reasons like outbreaks that really encourages us as it suggests no mass community transmission, which is what we’re really worried about. But every local authority though has to drive down their incidence.”

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