After a large spike in 19 Covid cases in Wigtownshire, health authorities are taking action by withdrawing visits to care homes.
Health officials from Dumfries and Galloway urge caution over the holidays and give regular testing over Christmas and New Year. Moreover, with immediate effect, all visits to care homes in Wigtownshire are being discontinued.
This comes after an increased number of cases of Covid, particularly in the Stranraer region, but also in Newton Stewart and more rural communities, have been found.
Cases have been reported in the workplace and even impact patients and workers at the Galloway Community Hospital, which has already stopped regular patient visits.
Valerie White, Interim Public Health Officer, said that cases were found in all four localities in the city.
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“She said, “In all four localities in the county – Annandale and Eskdale, Nithsdale, Stewartry and Wigtownshire – we continue to find new cases of COVID-19.
The current number of cases in Wigtownshire, however, is of particular concern and has contributed to the taking of steps to restrict the spread and protect those most at risk.
Unfortunately, this suggests an immediate freeze on care home visits in Wigtownshire – with minimal required visits to be coordinated with the care home in advance. The visiting restrictions were expected to come into effect when the area transitions into Stage 4 along with the rest of mainland Scotland from Saturday 26 December.
This measure is not taken lightly, as we know it will make residents and their loved ones uncomfortable, particularly at this time of year, but we believe it is important to protect some of our community’s most vulnerable members.
Again, it is recommended to be vigilant and obey national guidelines, but also to use your own judgement – particularly when there is an increased risk of infection over the Christmas and New Year period.
Regular testing will be provided over Christmas and New Year through a mobile testing unit located mainly at Ashwood House, Sun Street, Stranraer, in response to the situation.
Anyone with COVID symptoms is asked to self-isolate and arrange a test immediately, which is not only recommended in Wigtownshire and Upper Nithsdale, where an increased number of cases have been reported, but right across Dumfries and Galloway.
We are moving into a time where we will be especially at risk, Ms White said, “so it is important that everyone stays on guard against COVID’s ongoing threat. It poses a real health risk and can have a significant impact on services and companies.”
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“Scotland as a whole moves to Stage 4 from Boxing Day, December 26, when restrictions come into force to limit the spread of the coronavirus,” he said.
Because of COVID, we have suffered tragedies in Dumfries and Galloway, but we were not as seriously affected as some other areas. With vaccination helping us reach a more secure position, it would be horrible to falter now and risk everything we have worked so hard to accomplish.
I will ask everyone to obey the FACTS advice on wearing face shields and hand hygiene, physical distance and social contact, and most importantly, if they encounter any coronvirus symptoms, to immediately self-isolate and arrange for testing.
“Everyone has a role to play in protecting themselves, their loved ones, friends, neighbors, colleagues and communities.”