Borderers thinking of going west advised to proceed with caution

Borderers thinking of heading west for a day out now the advisory ban on round trips exceeding 10 miles imposed as part of the coronavirus lockdown has been lifted are being urged to think again.

Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 4:17 pm
Nicola Sturgeon at today's Scottish Government Covid-19 outbreak update in Edinburgh.

That five-mile limit still applies in parts of Dumfries and Galloway bordering our region following an outbreak of the disease, also known as Covid-19, in Annan and Gretna so any would-be day-trippers considering heading in that direction are being advised to proceed with caution.

At her daily Covid-19 briefing in Edinburgh today, July 2, Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “So far, 10 positive cases have been identified and a significant number of contacts are being traced and tested.

“As a precaution, staff at three workplaces with connections to those cases are also being tested today and mobile testing units have been deployed.

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“We are very hopeful that this outbreak will be contained – and I should stress there is no evidence at this stage to suggest otherwise – but until contact tracing and testing has been completed, we cannot be absolutely sure of that.

“That means we must act on a precautionary basis.

“As a result, the advice and guidance to people in the areas of Annan, Gretna, Dumfries, Lockerbie, Langholm and Canonbie is to continue to follow the five-mile travel restriction over the weekend until the testing and contact tracing process has been completed and we are able to assess if the outbreak has indeed been contained.

“If you have plans to travel into these areas over the weekend to visit or stay, you should follow the travel advice while there.

“In addition, care homes in those five areas will unfortunately not be able to welcome visitors this weekend.

“Generally, to people in these areas, until we conclude the management of this outbreak, please assume there is a higher risk of infection just now and take particular care to follow all public health advice, and remember, I’m sorry about this, the five-mile limit means you should not travel to pubs south of the border this weekend.

“I know this will not be welcome news for people in these areas, and I’m sorry about that, but this outbreak is sharply reminding us just how highly infectious Covid is and how vital it is that we proceed with care and caution.”

That advice is being echoed by Borders MP John Lamont.

Mr Lamont, MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk, said: “I know that my constituents in areas such as Newcastleton will be concerned about this differing guidance a few miles away from them.

“I spoke to the deputy first minister, John Swinney, and Jason Leitch, clinical director for Scotland, about how this will impact on nearby communities in the Scottish Borders.

“They want to reassure people that these steps are precautionary and contact tracing is being done.

“I also spoke with the community council in Newcastleton about what these changes mean.

“It is important that those who live in the postcodes highlighted by the Scottish Government follow the relevant guidance that applies to their community. That is the way we will stop the spread of the virus.”

Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP Rachael Hamilton added: “The first minister has said that these areas are not back in lockdown, and I think people need to take note of this.

“The government has taken this decision based on the scientific and health advice they have received, and we have been assured that Test and Protect is in place.

“Hopefully, the restrictions will not need to be in place for long and will be reviewed on Monday.

“People from Newcastleton and other rural areas in the Borders that are near these postcodes will rightly be concerned about these differences.

“I would ask everyone to be vigilant and abide by public health advice.”

The postcode areas affected are DG16 for Gretna, DG12 for Annan, DG1 and DG2 for Dumfries, DG11 for Lockerbie, DG13 for Langholm and DG14 for Canonbie.

The cumulative total of coronavirus cases in the Borders remains at 345, as it has been since Wednesday, June 17, though a laboratory error, since corrected, put it at 346 from Sunday, June 21, to Wednesday, June 24.

The death toll claimed by the disease in the region is also at a standstill, staying at 72, as of Sunday, for the second week in a row.

The 72 fatalities for the region cited in figures issued by the National Records of Scotland yesterday, taking into account all deaths linked to coronavirus and not just among those previously tested and found to be infected, are among 4,115 nationwide measured by those criteria.

The number of coronavirus cases confirmed nationwide is now up to 18,264, a rise of five overnight.

Across the UK, 313,483 people have tested positive for the disease, up 829 on the day before, and it has killed 43,906 of them, up 176 overnight.

It’s now just over four months since Scotland’s first official case of the disease, in Tayside, was announced on Sunday, March 1, after spreading across the world from Wuhan in China.

The first two cases in the Borders followed on Wednesday, March 11.

The number of coronavirus cases confirmed in Dumfries and Galloway is now up to 292 and the death toll claimed by the virus there stands at 47.