Tayside has been given a Covid-19 “wake-up call” with confirmation of a cluster of cases which have a direct link to the situation that has plunged Aberdeen back into local lockdown.
NHS Tayside has confirmed it is investigating five linked coronavirus cases in the north east Angus area, with more than 50 other people already traced as possible contacts.
All the Angus cases involve mild symptoms and no-one has required medical care.
NHS Grampian is also looking at a number of possibly linked cases in the Stonehaven and Portlethen areas.
Health chiefs said the Angus cluster is not confined to any individual premises or establishment but the “worrying development” has prompted fears a further escalation could also put the area under threat of lockdown, a prospect described by one leading council figure as “an absolutely last resort.”
NHS Tayside Associate Director of Public Health, Dr Daniel Chandler said: “Five positive cases, which are all connected, have been identified, with one having a direct link to the outbreak in Aberdeen.
“NHS Tayside Health Protection Team, in conjunction with NHS Grampian and the national Test and Protect service, has identified a further 54 individuals as contacts and these have been followed up with advice on self-isolating and offered testing where this has been appropriate.
“There is currently no evidence of wider community spread in Angus or elsewhere in Tayside.”
The Montrose and Brechin areas are believed to be the most likely areas to have a connection to the new cluster, given their relatively close proximity to Aberdeen.
Montrose Independent councillor Mark Salmond said: “This is a real concern and should serve as a wake-up call to everyone in Angus to reinforce their own Covid-19 protection regime.
“The FACTS guidance is clear and simple to follow, but we simply cannot become complacent about this because we have seen in Aberdeen, and other parts of the world, how quickly this virus can regain a hold.
“There are a lot of people from the likes of Brechin and Montrose who commute to work in Aberdeen and vice versa, and are still able to do that legitimately but this shows we need to be very careful.”
Brechin publicans recently launched a booking system and ‘one pub, one day’ system to clamp down on pub crawls and cut the risk of a repeat of the Aberdeen situation following the sharp spike in cases linked to a city hostelry.
Mr Salmond added: “I think that was a very sensible step to take and from what I have seen our pubs, restaurants and other businesses have been taking their responsibilities extremely seriously and doing everything they need to – and more – to keep staff and customers safe.
“However, the recent good weather has shown that people are not following the rules, many are going in numbers to places they might not usually go and they are certainly not social distancing.”
Angus Council economic development spokesman Braden Davy said: “This is a worrying development, we must ensure contact tracing is working properly, procedures are followed, and the response is quick.
“Jobs and lives depend on getting this right, a local lockdown in Angus must be an absolutely last resort.”
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