First coronavirus case unrelated to contact or travel recorded in Scotland

One of the nine new coronavirus cases confirmed in Scotland is the first to have been transmitted in the community.

The number of people who have now tested positive for Covid-19 in the country has increased by a third to 36 people, up from 27 on Tuesday.

After an update at 2pm on Wednesday, chief medical officer Dr Catherine Calderwood issued a statement confirming the case was unrelated to contact or travel.

She said: “We have identified the first case of community transmission in Scotland, which is unrelated to contact or travel.

“This was identified through our enhanced surveillance scheme.

“It is important to emphasise that we are still in the containment phase.

“This case was to be expected and highlights the importance of the additional measures we have put in place to identify positive cases beyond self-identification.”

The latest figures were released hours after Health Secretary Jeane Freeman told BBC Radio Scotland that community transmission cases were to be expected “shortly”.

NHS Lothian has the highest number of cases, with eight confirmed, while there are six in NHS Grampian and five in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde.

A further four cases have been detected in Lanarkshire, as well as three in Ayrshire and Arran and two each in NHS Borders, NHS Fife, NHS Forth Valley, NHS Shetland and NHS Tayside.

Ms Freeman warned the health service may need to draft in thousands of trainee doctors and nurses to cope with staff absence rates of up to 30% resulting from the outbreak.

She said the Scottish Government is looking to double the number of intensive care units available due to the spread of the virus, which will be achieved by making “difficult decisions” to scale down elective work such as hip and knee replacement surgeries.

Ms Freeman said NHS modelling showed the virus could result in an absence rate of between 25% and 30% among staff – who are at “greater risk” of contracting the disease as a result of caring for infected patients, even with protective equipment.

Brexit
Jeane Freeman said the way people live their lives may have to change for a while (Andrew Milligan/PA)

To help cope with staff shortages, the NHS is looking at how recently retired staff can return to work, with Ms Freeman also saying there are “something like 3,000 available nursing students” as well as year five medical students to call upon.

She said in stepping up they would only be asked to do what they are trained to do and no more but they could play an “important role” in caring for those who become sick.

The Health Secretary added authorities are “genuinely doing everything we possibly can to prepare for this”.

She said: “We have active work going on looking at how we can increase the number of beds available in our hospital settings, doubling the number of intensive care units that we have and equipping them and staffing them.

“You start to make difficult decisions about NHS care that is critical to life – that would be cancer treatment, transplants, maternity care – from NHS care that is not critical to life.

“That is some of our elective work, the replacements of knees, hips and so on.

“You start to scale down the non-critical in order to free up the space for the critical.

“That is where you get additional bed space but you also can get additional intensive care space.”

But with as many as 80% of people potentially becoming infected in the worst-case scenario, Ms Freeman said people must be clear “that we will not be able to make this go away”.

She added: “There will be difficulties and all of us, the way we live our lives is going to change for a period of time.

“People need to think about in what way they can offer additional help to their neighbours or their families, while we try to make sure that professional help that is there … to protect those who are most vulnerable and care for those who become sickest.”

Coronavirus
Nicola Sturgeon sits in on Dr Peter Cairns conducting a video consultation at the Wester Hailes Healthy Living Centre in Edinburgh (Gordon Terris/The Herald/PA)

Meanwhile, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saw first-hand how video technology could be used to help combat the spread of the disease

The Scottish Government is investing more than £3 million in scaling up the NHS Near Me system, which currently allows patients to have consultations with hospital consultants via video link.

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak it is being expanded to allow GP consultations to take place this.

Read Full Story

FROM OUR PARTNERS