NHS Dumfries & Galloway

Surge fears as Omicron accounts for 60 per cent of region’s new cases

SIXTY per cent of new COVID cases in the region at the start of this week were the Omicron variant – raising the very real possibility of an imminent surge in numbers.
In the week ending Sunday December 19 a total of 598 new cases was recorded in Dumfries and Galloway – up from 562 the week before.
Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “It could well be that Dumfries and Galloway is currently experiencing the calm before the storm in terms of COVID cases.
“Across much of the rest of Scotland we’re seeing numbers increasing, driven by the Omicron variant. This variant is so highly transmissible, that just three weeks after it was first discovered it has now become the dominant variant in Scotland – driving out Delta.
“Any reason to think that Dumfries and Galloway will be any less immune to its rapid advances is dispelled by the fact that we are seeing an increasing proportion of new cases being Omicron.
“We’re still learning about the variant and its impact on health, but a markedly increased number of cases is likely to see an increase in numbers requiring hospitalisation for treatment.
“And even before the Omicron effect, our health and social care systems are already under very real strain.
“With such a transmissible virus, there is also the potential for staffing across businesses and essential services to be affected, as people are forced to isolate due to contracting the virus or by being a close contact.
“New measures have been announced this week by the Scottish Government, but the fundamentals remain the same.
“Please get as fully vaccinated as possible against the virus, as the chances have significantly increased that it is only a matter of time until your body encounters it – whether prepared or unprepared. Vaccine clinics are still taking place, along with drop-ins, and it really is true that the best gift you can give yourself and your family this Christmas is the highest degree of defence against COVID.
“Very regular Lateral Flow Device (LFD) testing on a daily basis is now highly recommended, especially when we’re about to head out to situations where we might be mixing with others. Omicron is so transmissible, and identifying it through a quick, easy and free home test allows us to catch it before it has the chance to spread to others.
“Wearing a face covering in indoor public spaces helps prevent you from unknowingly spreading the virus to others, including those who may be more vulnerable, and we really ask that everyone considers their interactions, trying to limit these as much as possible. If you are meeting indoors, try to ensure you have some ventilation.
“The current situation is so eerily similar to where we were at this time last year, when we saw the arrival of the Alpha variant over Christmas and the rapid spread into January.
“Please, do have a good festive period, but do everything you can to help stop the spread, and consider taking up the opportunity of vaccination at whatever stage you are at in order to provide the best degree of protection.”

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