North-east health chiefs have urged people to show caution as coronavirus cases in Grampian continue to increase – causing concern that the situation is “serious and is worsening”.
The latest statistics released by Aberdeen City Health and Social Care Partnership (ACHSCP) have shown a significant rise in the number of people who have tested positive for the virus across the north-east.
Aberdeenshire West and South and in Aberdeen City West and South have been identified as “local hot spots”, accounting for 40 and 46 of the cases in the region between June 3-9.
This is an increase of 30 and 7 new coronavirus cases respectively in comparison to the week before.
Delta variant now the dominant strain of virus in Grampian
According to ACHSCP, over a short period of time the dominant strain of the virus in Grampian has also changed from the Alpha (Kent) variant to the Delta (Indian) variant.
The new variant, which is more than 60% more infectious than its predecessor, now accounts for more than 80% of the cases in the region.
Dr Derek Cox, consultant in Public Health, has urged people to take action to delay the speed of the third wave.
He said: “At the end of May, we were seeing case numbers sitting around eight or nine a day – we are now seeing daily cases at three times that.
“We need to take action now, before we ‘catch up’ with other parts of the country.
“The highly infectious Delta variant is now the dominant strain in Grampian, accounting for some 80% of cases.
“This is concerning for a number of reasons: this variant is more than 60% more infectious than the Alpha variant; it appears to be more resistant to the available vaccines, which means there is a greater need for everyone to get both doses; and emerging evidence suggests that the Delta variant may be associated with higher rates of hospitalisation (perhaps up to double) than the Alpha variant, even taking account of vaccination.
“I know there will be those who will point to the very low numbers of people currently in hospital and say we are making an undue fuss.
“The simple fact is, the third wave is here, but we have a window of opportunity to slow its progress across Grampian and give as many people as possible the opportunity to get both doses of Covid-19 vaccine.”
Enhanced measures to help contain the spread of infection
In efforts to halt the spread of the virus, additional mobile testing centres will be made available in Banchory and Stonehaven from June 12-16.
A testing service will also be introduced in Aboyne area office from June 11-18 to make testing as accessible as possible.
ACHSCP chief officer Sandra Ross has urged people to remain cautious despite the easing of coronavirus restrictions.
She said: “No one wants to go back into restrictions or even lockdown.
“We need to encourage individuals, workplaces, hospitality establishments and communities to do their utmost to keep the third wave at bay.
“When invited people should go for the vaccination.
“Now that we are vaccinating younger age groups, there is a significant proportion of appointments that are not being taken up.
“Younger people are still at risk of hospitalisation and of developing long Covid and should not assume that they don’t need to get vaccinated.
“Just because people are allowed to do some things does not mean that they should do these things.
“People should still avoid unnecessary travel outwith their own area, and especially to the Central Belt of Scotland and to England, avoid crowded indoor places and limit the numbers of people mixing at home, while continueing with the usual precautions of social distancing and use of face coverings. ”
Anyone who has symptoms is urged to arrange a PCR test at a government testing centre or by ordering a test through the post.
However, all members of the public who have no symptoms are strongly encouraged to get a supply of LFD tests and to do the test twice weekly.
Advice on how to get a test is available at NHS Inform or from the Grampian Testing web page.