A CO-ORDINATED approach is in place within Dumfries and Galloway to address the likelihood of a national outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Since the first reports of the outbreak in Wuhan, China, Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership has been working to prepare a suite of local arrangements in anticipation of the virus reaching the UK.
That work has been informed by constantly updated national data and advice. Local arrangements have been developed through an integrated approach, drawing on the well-established protocols within NHS Dumfries and Galloway to tackle communicable diseases.
A large team of key figures spanning primary care, acute care and social care is meeting regularly to take forward these arrangements. Information is being shared across the workforce, and with the public – who have a key role to play in helping to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
Current advice stresses the need to ensure good hygiene, regularly cleaning hands, and using disposable tissues for coughs and sneezes. It also directs people not to enter public areas such as GP practices if they feel there is a risk they may have been exposed to coronavirus – instead asking them to go home and either call their GP or NHS Inform on the free 111 number.
To date, 12 tests for COVID-19 have been undertaken in Dumfries and Galloway – all of them negative. In Scotland as a whole there has been one positive case, in Tayside, out of over 800 tests, with almost 12,000 across the whole of the UK.
It is likely that COVID-19 cases will be detected within Dumfries and Galloway over coming weeks. However, an assurance can be given that planning and preparations place the region in the best possible position to address the impact and ensure people receive the care and support they require.
Consultant in Public Health Dr Nigel Calvert said: “For the vast majority of people who become infected this will be a mild illness, but if there are large numbers of infections this is likely to place additional pressures on healthcare resources.
“There is a lot that the public can do to help limit the spread of the infection, and following advice and supporting the work of the Partnership with local organisations will help ensure everyone is best able to be helped if there are cases of COVID-19 within the region.”
Everyone can help support the UK’s response by:
- Following public health authorities’ advice, for example on hand washing
- Reducing the impact and spread of misinformation by relying on information from trusted sources, such as that on www.nhs.uk/, www.nhsinform.scot, www.publichealth.hscni.net, https://gov.wales/coronavirus-covid-19 and www.gov.uk/
- Checking and following the latest FCO travel advice when travelling and planning to travel
- Ensuring you and your family’s vaccinations are up to date as this will help reduce the pressure on the NHS/HSCNI through reducing vaccine-preventable diseases
- Using NHS 111 (or NHS 24 in Scotland or NHS Direct Wales) (including online, where possible), pharmacies and GPs responsibly, and go to the hospital only when you really need to. This is further explained on the NHS website – www.nhs.uk/using-the-nhs/nhs-services/urgent-and-emergency-care/when-to-go-to-ae/ and http://www.choosewellwales.org.uk/home
- Being understanding of the pressures the health and social care systems may be under, and receptive to changes that may be needed to the provision of care to you and your family.
- Accepting that the advice for managing COVID-19 for most people will be self-isolation at home and simple over the counter medicines
- Checking for new advice as the situation changes.