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Sheltered Moray residents mixing households drove spike in Covid cases, expert claims

Moray residents have been urged to take a Covid test with an expansion of asymptomatic testing in the area

A winter surge in Covid cases in Moray was fuelled by residents mixing with other households having had no exposure to the virus, a leading NHS expert has said.

NHS Grampian’s head of health intelligence, Jillian Evans, said the spread of the virus in the region had “definitely” been caused by community transmission.

Yesterday, the number of cases in Moray in the last seven days was 36.5 per 100,000 compared to only 26.6 per 100,000 across Grampian.

At its peak at the start of the year, Moray had a rate of 163.8.

“I don’t mean to blame them, Moray residents just didn’t have the same experience as was in Aberdeen last summer,” Dr Evans told The P&J.

“Moray had practically no infections throughout the pandemic, it has practically not experienced it.”

The comments come amid news of three cases linked to the Robertson Construction timber factory in Elgin.

A spokeswoman said the firm was doing all it could to limit the spread, including deep cleaning all areas its Elgin-based employees were working in before their positive tests.

She said: “The facility is complying with face coverings and social distancing, among other measures and the management team have been hosting regular toolbox talks to reinforce our Covid-safe operating procedures and advise employees of the positive results of their colleagues.

“We are introducing a weekly demisting clean from today to provide further reassurance to employees that their health and safety is our utmost priority.

“As a business, we continue to promote our Covid safe operating procedures to all employees and actively encourage them to observe these guidelines both at work and domestically.”

The whole of the Scottish mainland will remain under stay at home restrictions until the beginning of April.

Earlier this week, an outbreak at the Glenisla care home in Keith forced all residents into self-isolation.

It prompted authorities to encourage all residents of the Moray town to take up the offer of coronavirus testing, regardless of whether or not they have symptoms.

The health board’s data insight expert Dr Evans added: “There is an extension to asymptomatic community testing, lots of mobile units at the moment reaching people without symptoms.

“It is a really important population health intervention to prevent the chains of transmission.

“There is also community outreach to urge people to remain within the rules and comply as much as they can.

“A lot of it is about behaviours and I think it was partly because they just have not had the same experience as everywhere else.

“There was an increase in cases mainly due to people mixing – that’s what happened there in the run up to Christmas.

“And because so many in Moray had not been affected by the virus and therefore had no immunity, it made it easy for Covid to be transmissible across big sections of the population – and it’s been hard to get that back under control.”

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