The new variant of COVID-19 has been confirmed in Dumfries and Galloway, and is suspected to be playing a role in a rise in cases across the region. This is the biggest increase in COVID-19 cases we have seen in the region since the start of the global pandemic.
There has been an exceptionally rapid increase in Wigtownshire and Stranraer since the start of December, and notably a recent rise in Annandale and Eskdale.
There are currently 463 new cases in Dumfries and Galloway since 24th December of which 288 are in Wigtownshire, and 101 are in Annandale and Eskdale. Potentially any part of the region could see a rise in cases at a similar pace if we do not exercise extreme caution as we go about our lives at work and at home.
While COVID-19 was already a highly transmissible virus which required significant precautions, the new variant is understood to be up to 70 per cent more transmissible, and is responsible for the rapid escalation in cases in south east England and in south Wales.
Additional testing capacity with the mobile testing unit is now in place at locations throughout the region. Please see the schedule on NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s public website https://www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing/.
The booking slots open online at 6pm every evening to book your appointment for the following day.
You should continue to self isolate at home if you are symptomatic until you are able to book a test. We continue to work to increase local capacity to support the increased demand that we are currently experiencing as a result of the outbreak.
The booking slots are only available to book through the national testing programme. It is not possible to book by calling the NHS Dumfries and Galloway switchboard.
You can also be tested with the postal test kit service. Find out more at https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test.
If anyone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or is self isolating awaiting a test or test result, requires additional support i.e. assistance with acquiring food, financial support (Self Isolation Support Grants/Crisis grants), prescription pick-ups etc, they should contact the Council’s Shielding Team/Single Access Point: 01387 260600.
Meanwhile, an appeal is being issued for people not just to follow all the new Level 4 restrictions, but where possible to go beyond them – trying to stay at home as much as possible and help limit the spread, both locally and potentially to other parts of the region.
Councillor Elaine Murray, Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council said: “This increase in cases is alarming, and the rapid spread of infection suggests that this may be due to the new COVID-19 variant. Cases are on the rise across Scotland and we have to be prepared for the imposition of further restrictions”.
Nick Morris is Chairman on NHS Dumfries and Galloway who said: “We are once again asking you to recognise that this disease is passed on by individual contacts between us – therefore please limit all unnecessary contacts; stay at home, save lives and protect our NHS. This new strain of COVID is 70% more transmissible, and is likely to be associated with the significant increase in positive cases across our region.”
Councillor Rob Davidson, Depute Leader of the Council said: As we approach new year, a time of celebration, we are asking you to stay at home, and follow the level 4 restrictions in place. We can get through this together.”
GP Charlie Dunnett from Newton Stewart talks about the trend in the Wigtownshire locality – https://youtu.be/856U_5sxKvM