Coronavirus fatalities in Borders now up to eight

Eight lives in the Borders have now been lost to coronavirus.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 5:52 pm
Updated Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 6:59 pm
Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon at Holyrood today. (Photo by Fraser Bremner/Pool/Getty Images)

The first five fatalities claimed here by the disease, also known as Covid-19, were announced on Monday, and that figure rose to seven yesterday and eight today, April 1.

They’re among a death toll of 76 nationwide, up from 60 yesterday, and 2,352 across the UK, up from 1,408.

The number of cases of coronavirus confirmed in the Borders has seen an increase in double figures for the fourth day in a row.

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The increase of 10 positive test results announced by the Scottish Government today takes the tally of diagnoses of the disease in the region to 87.

That latest daily update also reveals that 2,310 cases of the illness have been confirmed nationwide, up from 1,993 the day before.

Across the UK, 29,474 people have tested positive for the illness, including UK Government prime minister Boris Johnson, health secretary Matt Hancock and chief medical officer Chris Whitty, plus the Prince of Wales. That’s up from 22,141 the day before.

Just over 17,000 tests for the illness have now been carried out in Scotland, with 14,697 giving negative results.

It’s three weeks now since the first two cases of the illness were confirmed in the Borders on Wednesday, March 11, and a month since Scotland’s first case was announced on Sunday, March 1, after spreading worldwide from China.

That figure went up to three on Friday, March 13; five on Saturday, March 14; seven on Sunday, March 15; eight the following Thursday, March 19; nine on Friday, March 20; 10 on Saturday, March 21; 11 on Sunday, March 22; 12 on Monday, March 23; 15 last Wednesday; 23 last Thursday; 28 last Friday; 35 on Saturday; 50 on Sunday; 63 on Monday; 77 yesterday; and 87 today.

Though rising rapidly, the number of cases of Covid-19 in the Borders is still well behind those reported in the neighbouring health board areas of Dumfries and Galloway, Lanarkshire and Lothian, up to 100, 284 and 311 respectively.

The 2,000-plus Scots confirmed to have coronavirus are likely to be only a small fraction of the number actually infected, however, according to the country’s chief medical officer, Catherine Calderwood.

Dr Calderwood told a briefing in Edinburgh this week that she reckons the number of people in Scotland infected with the disease to be more than 100,000, and that estimate that only one in 64 cases of Covid-19 has been detected this side of the border would, if correct, put the likely figure for the region at almost 5,600 out of a population of about 115,000.

She added that the proportion of tests giving positive results for coronavirus is “increasing day by day”, warning: “Despite what we are doing, the virus is still being transmitted in our communities.”

Speaking during a debate at Holyrood today, Scottish Government first minister Nicola Sturgeon warned that the number of patients seriously ill with coronavirus being admitted to intensive care units will continue to rise for weeks to come.

There are now 147 patients with confirmed or suspected Covid-19 in intensive care units, up from 51 a week ago, she reported.

Addressing fellow MSPs, Ms Sturgeon said: “We are now at the stage of this epidemic, as we expected to be, when the number of cases is rising rapidly, and unfortunately that means the numbers becoming seriously unwell and dying are also sadly rising.

“Of course, we hope that the lockdown measures we are asking people to comply with will have a marked effect on the spread of the virus and that we will see a slowdown in the next few weeks.

“However, given that these measures take some time to have an impact, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions yet.”

Giving an update on the rising number of intensive care patients being treated, Ms Sturgeon said: “Unfortunately, we do expect that increase to continue for a further two or three weeks at least.”

She added: “Our current modelling of the spread of the virus, which I must stress assumes continued high compliance with the lockdown measures, together with the steps we are taking to increase capacity, suggests our intensive care units are in a much stronger position to cope with the expected peak of the epidemic.”