Surge in Scots Covid cases ‘examined thoroughly’, says chief medical officer

Skyrocketing levels of Covid-19 infection in Scotland are being ‘intensely scrutinized’, says the chief medical officer.

Professor Sir Gregor Smith released a statement after it was revealed that one in 18 Scots had the killer bug in the first week of March.

The figures were released by the Office for National Statistics this week.

A total of 1,663 Scots were in hospital with newly confirmed Covid-19 on Friday – the highest in just over a year.

Prof Smith said there was “understandable interest or apprehension about rising case rates and busy hospitals in Scotland” but stressed that it “continues to be intensely monitored and assessed “.

The chief medical officer took to social media to reassure Scots.

He added that there was “no evidence” that this variant was associated with more severe disease than previous forms of the virus.

With the increase in the number of hospitals, particularly among people over the age of 60, Sir Gregor admitted there was ‘tremendous’ pressure on NHS staff.

Sir Gregor Smith

But added that “we are not seeing the same volume of serious illness as before” with the number of people in intensive care “low and stable”.

Sir Gregor called this “very encouraging” as he added that at this stage there was “no signal on excess death data”.

His comments came as NHS Lanarkshire bosses said hospitals were “working beyond their maximum capacity”.

The health board has reintroduced essential visits only to its hospitals, with people also being asked to stay away from accidents and emergencies, where many patients have to wait longer than 10 hours.

Sir Gregor tweeted: “Hospital occupancy with a positive Covid-19 test is increasing, particularly those in their 60s; some is direct Covid-19 disease, some reflects background community transmission rates and some due to longer stays.

“All contribute to the increase in health pressures which are immense for colleagues.

“However, admissions have not increased as strongly as the occupancy rate and we are not seeing the same volume of serious illnesses as before; intensive care admissions are very low and stable.

“At this point it is very encouraging and there is no signal on excess death data.

“All of this is scrutinized.

“We are also monitoring vaccine efficacy studies very closely, the good news here is that the duration of protection after the third dose continues to be very resistant to severe disease.

“The UK, and Scotland in particular, are world leaders in publishing these studies.

“So while there is no room for complacency, the relationship with Covid-19 disease is changing.

“Uncontrolled cases will always lead to unmanageable pressures, increased deaths and resilience issues in services, but at the moment this is not evident.

“We can all play a role in preventing this.”

He added: “By acting together, for each other, when cases are extremely high, we can help contain the spread.

“Simple gestures, such as avoiding crowded indoor spaces, wearing a face covering and good hygiene measures always make a difference.

“That shouldn’t stop us from enjoying life.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is expected to confirm on Tuesday whether a further easing of Covid restrictions in Scotland, due to take place on Monday March 21, will continue.

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