Following the continual drop in coronavirus cases in Moray over the last two weeks, the incident management team assigned to monitor the situation has been closed.
Testing advice in the region has also returned to normal, with anyone showing common symptoms of the virus – a new or continual cough, fever or loss of taste or smell – urged to take a PCR test.
Moray moved to level 2 restrictions on May 22 after being kept in level 3 longer than the majority of Scotland.
Increased testing and vaccine rollout remained in place in the region while public health bosses kept a close eye on figures.
This will now return to a level in line with the rest of the country, as officials are satisfied that the spread of the virus in Moray is under control.
Earlier this month, the area had the highest level of Covid-19 in Scotland, with over 100 cases per 100,000. This number has now dropped to 17, the lowest rate since before Christmas.
“Protect each other and protect Grampian”
Deputy director of public health at NHS Grampian, Chris Littlejohn, reminded the public that no one can afford to become complacent in the face of this virus.
He said: “We need to remember this is still an infectious virus, with more transmissible variants being passed around in some parts of the country. We saw with this outbreak in Moray, how quickly things can escalate and how quickly it can affect the level system.
“Ultimately people need to take responsibility for their own actions. For instance, if another area of Scotland has particularly high rates of the virus or it is known a variant of concern is widely in circulation, is it worth the risk of travelling there and importing it back to Moray and the north-east?
“To each individual in the north-east, I’d ask you please follow the guidelines; above that use your own judgement, especially when travelling; protect each other and protect Grampian.”
Mr Littlejohn also reminded the people of Moray that current guidance is still for people to be working from home where possible, even once we reach level 0.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead also urged people to stick to public health guidance.
He said: “Moray’s outbreak was a stark reminder that Covid hasn’t gone away and the our communities are not immune from the spread of this virus, so I would encourage people to remain vigilant and to continue to stick to public health guidance to keep Moray safe going forward.”
“A heartfelt thank you”
Those coming forward for tests has increased six-fold in the region, 80% of 40-49 years olds have now had their first dose of the vaccine, along with 68.7% of those aged 30-39 and 70.2% of those aged 18-29.
Local officials have shared their thanks with everyone involved in slowing the spread of the virus, from the public to the NHS.
Mr Lochhead said: “I want to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone involved in responding to the surge in covid cases in Moray over the last few weeks. The efforts of healthcare staff, community volunteers, and public health officials to drive case numbers down has been nothing short of phenomenal and I know our communities are incredibly grateful.”
Moray MP Douglas Ross highlighted the importance of combined effort that led to this change, saying: “This is due in no small part to the hard work of the NHS teams who continue to test and vaccinate, but also the response from the public who have lined up to get their jabs to bring this spike in cases down and stop it from spreading further.
“It was due to this combined effort that saw us able to move down to Level 2 and hopefully we will be able to move to Level 1 in the near future. I know how welcome this news is to everyone here in Moray.”
“An incredibly positive story”
Mr Littlejohn agreed that the drop in cases in Moray is just as much down to the public as it is to health officials.
He said: “The drop in case rates is an incredibly positive story. We’ve not seen a decline like this without a full lockdown before, we’ve only seen this kind of turnaround with a full lockdown. How the public responded and acted was the reason that happened.
“I’d like to thank the public, without their efforts Moray would most likely still be in level three; the testing and vaccinations teams for their tireless work; Moray Council; and other organisations including VisitMoray Speyside, who worked with us. Health boards cannot combat these types of outbreaks alone, it takes a community.”