Health chiefs have warned that coronavirus is “circulating widely” in the north-east and urged residents to take action now to avoid a “crisis” for the NHS after Christmas.
Cases have been soaring across the region in recent weeks, and this week it emerged that nearly half of the people who tested positive are not linked to known outbreaks such as those which have swept through care homes and food factories.
NHS Grampian said the situation “suggests widespread community transmission in the area” and could mean a swift shift into even stricter Level 4 restrictions following the move to Level 3 from today.
Under Level 4, which is close to the stringent measures in place at the start of lockdown, restaurants, cafes, pubs and bars will be forced to shut and only “essential” shops can open.
Gyms would have to close and churches would be limited to 20 socially distanced worshippers.
45% of new cases are not connected to known situations
She said: “Aberdeen continues to see the number of Covid-19 cases increase. Of the new cases each week, we can link 55% of them to clusters or outbreaks – so we can explain them, we can take action to break the chains for transmission and reduce further spread.
“However, 45% of the new cases are not connected to known situations.
“It is for this reason that we need to involve everyone in helping us to stop the spread of Covid-19. The case numbers we are seeing at present are not solely the result of outbreaks in care homes or workplaces. This virus is circulating widely, and we are seeing community spread in our towns and villages.”
‘We could see a crisis after Christmas if we don’t all pull in the right direction’
Ms Webb added: “In the last week, we saw the rate per 100,000 in Aberdeen rise from 76 to 122, a 60% jump, and together with a smaller rise Aberdeenshire.
“Case positivity was up 3.9% to 6.1% as well, so we are rightly concerned about how fragile the situation is in the north-east.
Our strong advice this Christmas is to stay at home with your own household.
If you choose to form a bubble over the festive period, know how to keep yourself and your loved ones as safe as possible ⬇
— Scottish Government (@scotgov) December 17, 2020
“Further spread will place further significant pressure on the region’s health care staff and facilities. Ultimately it will sadly lead to more deaths as well.
“We could see a crisis after Christmas if we don’t all pull in the right direction.
“If we do not do all we can and spread continues to increase, it is eminently probable that the Scottish Government could place further restrictions on the region in the weeks ahead to control the spread.
“It is vital everyone continue to play their part now, and in the coming weeks, to stop the situation in the region from worsening and the pressure on our health care facilities from increasing further. If we all work together we can save lives.”
On Thursday four Aberdeen residents were among the 30 Scottish deaths recorded in the prior 24 hours related to Covid-19.
A further 129 people tested positive for the virus in the north and north-east across the same period.
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