Covid-19 surge in Scottish town leads to 'perfect storm' infection warning for May Day weekend

A surge of Covid-19 cases in the Moray area has led health chiefs to warn of a “perfect storm” for further spread in infections given the May Day weekend and the easing of lockdown.

More than 100 new cases have been reported in Moray since April 10 with around half of those recorded in the last seven days.

The majority of infections are in Elgin although cases are scattered throughout the region.

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Moray currently has one of the highest rates of Covid-19 in the country and is well ahead of the rest of the NHS Grampian area.

A surge of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in Moray with the majority of infections reported in Elgin. PIC: Ann Harrison/geograph.orgA surge of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in Moray with the majority of infections reported in Elgin. PIC: Ann Harrison/
A surge of Covid-19 cases has been recorded in Moray with the majority of infections reported in Elgin. PIC: Ann Harrison/
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In the last week, Moray accounted for close to 50 per cent of Grampian’s cases – but is home to less than 17 per cent of the population.

The surge has prompted NHS Grampian to warn of a “perfect storm” for further transmission given the holiday weekend, the easing of lockdown and the expected rise in visitors to the area.

Moray tourism leaders have also spoken of their concern as the public holiday approaches.

NHS Grampian’s Director of Public Health, Susan Webb said: “We really are on a worrying trajectory in Moray and it is vital everyone ensures they are sticking to the rules to ensure the area isn’t left behind as the rest of the country unlocks.

“There is a real fear, that with unlocking and the May Day weekend, if individuals don’t act responsibly and stick with the guidelines they could create the perfect storm in the area. Until now Moray has escaped the worst of the pandemic, but we could now see Moray get left behind as the country unlocks."

Infection rates in the region sits at 50.1 per 100,000 people, which is around three times that of Aberdeen City (15.7) and almost six times higher that Aberdeenshire (8.4).

Around a third of cases cannot be traced to any other infected person, with community transmission a significant issue.

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NHS Grampian is expanding testing and urging those with any classic Covid-19 signs or “mild or extended symptoms” – including general weakness, runny nose, sore throat, headaches and diarrhoea – to book a PCR test in a bid to identify and isolate infections as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, a rapid testing centre for those with no symptoms is being set up in Elgin town centre, at Williamson Hall, Moss Street, today. Those with any symptoms must not attend here.

Laurie Piper, CEO of Visit Moray Speyside said the area could not afford to lose further tourism and business and urged people to follow the Covid-19 rules in order to protect livelihoods as far as possible.

Mr Piper said: “Moray’s tourism businesses are vital for the local economy and sustain thousands of people’s livelihoods – it’s crucial that everyone follows the guidelines including those around social distancing and mask wearing, and by getting tested where appropriate.

“We must do all we can to protect the region and let us start to open up as planned. We can’t afford to let the hard work and sacrifices of the past months be lost”.

Sam Thomas, Chief Nurse for Moray, said infection rates in Moray had been, to date, lower than most regions in Scotland. Less community transmission and a high uptake in vaccinations may have led to less immunity in the wider population, she said.

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