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Coronavirus explained: What are the Scottish Government looking at when deciding what local authority goes to what tier?

Residents and businesses across Scotland face an anxious wait until the Scottish Government makes its final decision on what tier each local authority will be in tomorrow.

The government’s new coronavirus alert system will come into force on Monday.

Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire have provisionally been placed in tier two, with Moray, Highland, and the islands all being put in tier one.

But how are the government deciding what local authority goes where?

It’s a very complicated process, with a variety of factors being involved in these decisions.

The number of cases per 100,000 people over the past seven days, including for particular age groups of the population

This is one of the leading factors in deciding what restrictions are put in place.

It has been used in the north-east before, with Aberdeen being put in lockdown because it was recording 61.2 cases per every 100,000 people.

Currently, South Lanarkshire has the worst rate in Scotland, with 343.8 cases per 100,000 people.

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That is why the region could be facing the toughest tier of restrictions, along with North Lanarkshire which has 298.5 cases per 100,000 people.

In Aberdeen, the rate is currently 35.0, with this lower in Aberdeenshire (26.0), Orkney (18.0), Western Isles (15.0), Moray (14.6), Highland (13.1), and Shetland (8.7).

Infection rates within those aged over 60 are also closely watched, due to how vulnerable they are to the virus.

Forecasts of the number of cases per 100,000 over the fortnight ahead

Government scientists use data to predict how much the virus will grow in each region over the next two weeks.

If they forecast that it will increase rapidly and out of control, it will lead to stricter restrictions for the region.

The percentage of tests that are positive over the past seven days

This is an easier one to understand and is about how many people test positive and negative for the disease.

Coronavirus in Scotland – track the spread in these charts and maps

In Scotland, this figure has hit as high as 11%, which shows that the virus is spreading within a community.

The World Health Organisation has said that countries should be aiming for a rolling weekly figure of under 5% as that means the virus is under control.

Scotland’s current seven-day average is around 8%, which is why extra restrictions have been introduced.

Current and projected future use of local hospital beds, compared with the capacity

Another very important factor, with the Scottish Government repeatedly saying that the worst-case scenario during this pandemic is for the NHS to be overwhelmed.

The number of patients in hospital is being measured, along with how many will be used in the forthcoming weeks.

Each health board will have a certain number of beds and will need space for normal illnesses or other medical matters.

The number of patients in a hospital in Scotland has increased a lot over the past three months, going from less than 50 in September to 1,100 yesterday.

In Grampian, the number of patients has risen from below five in September to 28.

In Highland, the Western Isles, and Shetland, the number of patients is below five.

In comparison, in the NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde region, there are 479 patients in hospital with Covid-19.

Current and projected future use of intensive care beds, compared with the capacity

There are a limited number of ICU beds in Scotland, with 585 of them being the last figure announced by the government.

Currently, 82 of those are being used, a significant increase on six that was recorded in September.

Less than five are being used in Grampian, Highland, Shetland, and the Western Isles.

Other regional factors

There are numerous other factors that will be looked at as well which will vary by region.

Scottish Government officials have been in dialogue with local authorities and will make decisions based on public health advice.

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