Warning that the Borders could move back to tier two after another rise in Covid-19 cases

Ralph Roberts, chief executive of NHS Borders.Ralph Roberts, chief executive of NHS Borders.
Ralph Roberts, chief executive of NHS Borders.
Concerns were raised today over the possibility that the Borders will be moved back to tier 2 of the Scottish Government’s multi-level system of coronavirus restrictions, following another sharp rise in cases.

Eleven new cases in the last 24 hours makes the latest seven-day total 110 new cases in the region ... that rate of infection is no longer consistent with being in tier 1.

It is also putting new pressures on the local health authority’s ability to deliver its services, with all routine planned operations cancelled until January.

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The rise has also led to health chiefs warning Borderers about how they mix with others over Christmas, despite the planned relaxation of restrictions.

Chief executive of NHS Borders, Ralph Roberts, said: “The increase in confirmed cases we are seeing is far larger than the numbers associated with the recent outbreak at the BGH.

“We are starting to see an impact on the delivery of NHS services and have had to take the very difficult decision to cancel all routine planned operations until the end of this year.

“Urgent and cancer procedures will still go ahead.

“After living with restrictions for months I fully understand that people want to take advantage limited additional freedom that being in level 1 has given us.

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“However the reality is that cases of COVID are rising and if this continues then it is inevitable that further controls will need to be put back in place.

“I would urge people to think really carefully before mixing with other households in the coming weeks including over the festive period.

“The virus poses the same threat now as it always has and I would ask people to consider whether they are continuing to follow the same level of precautions as they were earlier in the year.

“Winter places a great deal of pressure on health and care services every year, and that is without including the impact of this deadly virus.

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“The actions we all take now will have an impact in the coming months so please follow the rules and remember that you should not meet anyone who is not a member of your household indoors, in their home or in another person’s home.

“These rules are really important if we are to keep each other safe and allow time for the COVID vaccination programme to take place over the coming months.”

Leader of Scottish Borders Council, Shona Haslam, added: “The sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in the Borders is a real cause for concern.

“If it continues there is a good chance we will move away from Level 1 and face tighter restrictions.

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“We were only able to get into Level 1 in the first place by following all the guidance and being vigilant.

“We need to keep doing these things, now more than ever, or we will find ourselves in a really difficult position.

“Please continue to support local businesses and avoid travelling to other areas.

Retailers across the Borders have worked hard to ensure they are open and operating as safely as possible.

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“The council has also suspended all pay and display car parking charges across the area throughout the festive season to encourage use of our excellent local shops.

“Similarly, our hospitality industry – including bars, restaurants and cafes – is open and ready to welcome you, but please make sure you that if you are meeting other people there are no more than six of you and only from two different households.

“This is really important.

“Please also give your details for Test and Protect purposes, wear face coverings when moving around, maintain social distancing and sanitize your hands regularly.”

This week, NHS Borders also announced that a “small number” of cases had been reported at Hay Lodge hospital in Peebles, which has been closed to new admissions.

Visiting is limited to essential visits only at both Hay Lodge and the Borders General Hospital.

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