Observation unit opened at BGH

While new cases of Covid-19 are continuing to fall in the Borders – with 96 confirmed cases in the latest seven-day period – the pressure on the Borders General Hospital remains stubbornly high.

Gareth Clinkscale, General Manager for unscheduled care
Gareth Clinkscale, General Manager for unscheduled care

Three dedicated Covid wards remain open in the hospital as well as a recently-opened Covid-19 Higher Observation Unit within Ward 5, so that patients with the virus who are well enough to leave the Intensive Care Unit can be cared for in a suitable environment.

Associate director of acute services at NHS Borders, Gareth Clinkscale, said: “Our staff are working tirelessly to maintain a level of routine services including all urgent, cancer and emergency surgeries.

"We have faced significant pressure over the past week which has resulted in delays in our emergency department and in admitting patients to our wards.”

“Please play your part in protecting our NHS by following the rules and staying at home.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Tuesday that the current lockdown restrictions will remain in place for now.

Addressing the Scottish Parliament, she said restrictions needed to continue as case numbers in the country remain too high and pressure on the NHS was “severe”.

She also said 73 per cent of all new cases were the more transmissible UK variant, and that five cases of the South African variant had been identified in Scotland.

The current lockdown restrictions, including the stay at home rule, will remain in place until at least the end of February.

However, she said if progress continues and as more people are vaccinated, the Scottish Government may be able to begin to ease restrictions at the start of March.

There will be an update on that decision in two weeks’ time.

She also announced tighter international travel measures to minimise the risk of new Covid strains arriving in the country.

A “managed quarantine requirement” will be implemented for anyone who arrives directly into Scotland - regardless of which country they have travelled from, which is stricter than the current UK quarantine rules.

Ms Sturgeon added that her administration would be urging the UK Government to adopt a more comprehensive approach to quarantine.