Aberdeenshire is being recommended to be placed under tier three Covid-19 rules at tomorrow’s Scottish Government review of restriction levels.
Despite rising infection rates in the region, at last week’s review date First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced there would be no immediate changes to tiers across Scotland, but warned the government would continue to “look very carefully” at the situation in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire.
At today’s daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon stressed no decision has yet been made.
However, it is understood that a move up a tier from two to tier three for Aberdeenshire is recommended by the national incident management team.
It is not currently known what has been recommended for Aberdeen City.
Increase in cases in Aberdeenshire
Last Friday, Scotland’s national clinical director Jason Leitch said while the levels of Covid-19 in the city region are a “little bit of a mixed picture”, in Aberdeenshire “everything is up”.
He explained that as of Friday, in Aberdeenshire there had been an increase in cases on six of the previous seven days, and that during that period the test positivity rate had gone up from 4.3% to 5.2%.
In Aberdeen City, the test positivity rate had gone down from 5% to 3.7% in that same period.
Councils, the government and public health directors have been discussing over the weekend if the growing numbers warrant a move to tier three restrictions levels for both regions.
Will Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire be moved into tier three?
Asked at the daily briefing whether the situation in the north-east merited Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire being put into tier 3, Ms Sturgeon told The P&J: “That will be something we are assessing over the course of today.
“Obviously we didn’t feel it was necessary to do it before now and therefore the decision on that will fall to be taken as part of the wider suite of decisions cabinet takes tomorrow morning and I will set out those out to parliament tomorrow afternoon.”
There have been a number of outbreaks in Aberdeenshire in recent weeks, including at least 72 cases at the Inchmarlo House Care Home near Banchory, and at least 86 cases at the Kepak McIntosh Donald plant in Portlethen.
Clusters have also been reported at fish processing plants in the Buchan area.
Investigation into possible community transmission
Last week, the Deputy First Minister John Swinney said work would be conducted to find out “the degree to which individual outbreaks, for example, meat or fish processing factories, are inflating the position within the Aberdeenshire Area.
He added the investigation would look to determine how these cases might be “flowing into community transmission”.
The first minister stressed: “I’m not going to speculate. We are going through that process over the course of today.
“We publish statistics every day so you can look yourself to see area where we have seen a rise in cases as opposed to the national picture which has seen as overall reduction.
“But we will look at the latest data over the course of the day and I will announce those decisions tomorrow.
“There are areas that we will look at whether they can come down a level and of course, we will have to look at areas that data suggest should move up a level.
“But these are fine judgments that we take very carefully.”
The most recent data from Public Health Scotland shows the seven-day positive rate per 100,000 of the population in Aberdeenshire stood at 80.4 between November 28 and December 4.
In Aberdeen, that figure for that period is 74.3.