CASES of COVID-19 have dropped significantly in Dumfries and Galloway – but just as concerns emerge around the possible effects of a new coronavirus variant.
In the week ending Sunday December 21 there were 582 new cases – down from 795 the week before.
A significant drop was also recorded in the number of close contacts of confirmed cases, down from 1587 to stand at 1141.
Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “I’d love to be able to welcome this as a turning point, but it’s still too early to know for sure.
“We’ve had false hopes recently, and cases of COVID still remain very high. On top of this, we now have the concerns which surround the new Omicron variant.
“It’s not much more than a year ago that we saw the Alpha variant emerge in Dumfries and Galloway– taking hold in Wigtownshire over the Christmas period and quickly becoming the dominant version of COVID.
“We don’t yet know how Omicron will impact on us, but it’s likely only a matter of time till we see cases appearing. Given the risk, it’s absolutely vital that everyone embraces the ramping up and expansion of the booster vaccination campaign. Please visit the National Portal to book your to book your booster- this offers the best protection against COVID-19.
“To book in, visit https://vacs.nhs.scot/csp or telephone 0800 030 8013.”
Meanwhile, the Scottish Government’s Living Safely for Us All campaign is promoting the actions we can all take to help limit the spread of COVID.
This includes taking regular lateral flow tests, particularly before mixing with people from other households, and staying at home if the test is positive.
People are being encouraged to meet others outdoors, let fresh air in if mixing with other households indoors, and work from home if possible.
Other key protections include booking an appointment for the COVID-19 vaccine if you are eligible and not yet vaccinated, cleaning hands regularly, wearing a face covering where required, and self-isolating immediately if you have COVID-19 symptoms, and booking a PCR test.
Valerie White said: “We’re appealing to people to live safely for us all. It’s really important to follow the key COVID-19 protections already in place to help keep you and others safe and prevent the spread of this new variant.
“If you are eligible and not yet vaccinated, booking an appointment to get your COVID-19 vaccine remains the best way to protect yourself from the virus, and stepping up efforts to comply with the guidance in place, particularly testing before meeting up with others, is vital in helping protect communities, and the NHS.”
Symptoms of COVID-19 are:
A raised temperature
A new and continuous cough
Change to or loss of sense of taste and or smell
Regular asymptomatic testing for COVID provides assurance and helps to identify cases at the earliest opportunity.
Details on the full range of testing opportunities can be found by visiting the website www.nhsdg.co.uk/testing/
Full details on opportunities to be vaccinated can be found by visiting the website www.nhsdg.co.uk/vaccines/