Health chiefs in Fife have warned there will almost certainly be further Covid-19 outbreaks in the region amid low test and protect returns.
NHS Fife board members were given an update about the situation in Fife after national figures released on Wednesday confirmed the kingdom’s death toll rose by two in a week, to 203, the first increase since July 6.
Concerns have been raised about the tiny number of contacts traced so far under the flagship “Test and Protect” scheme.
New figures have revealed just four “index” cases were recorded in the region up to July 12 and only six contacts have been followed up.
Dona Milne, Fife’s director of public health, confirmed the numbers were much lower than anticipated but stressed the importance of people continuing to follow guidance.
“The quieter period than we probably expected has enabled us to get the team up and running and make sure it will be as effective as possible.
“This really is a partnership effort and we are continuing to remind people that although things are starting to become less restrictive and we can see friends and family, which is really good for our mental health, we still need people to follow public health measures.
“We will see outbreaks across the country, and our goal in public health is to try and prevent these where possible.”
Ms Milne also urged Fife’s pubs and restaurants – and those visiting them – to play their part, noting: “We should all be asking people to sign in and out and I’d like to encourage people to do that because it makes our job so much easier to follow up contacts and arrange for testing as soon as we can.”
NHS Fife is due to submit a remobilisation plan on how services should start to return to normal at the end of this week but the fear of a second wave is dictating the health board’s planning.
Helen Buchanan, director of nursing, said: “It’s a fine line between ensuring that we remain safe and agile in case we have another outbreak, as well as making sure that we see patients who need to be seen.”
Meanwhile, Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley expressed his concerns that NHS Fife do not know how many patients were discharged from hospitals into care homes without Covid-19 testing in March, April and May this year, or how many people were transferred from acute hospitals into community hospitals without being tested.
In a response to a Freedom of Information request, Fife’s director of health and social care Nicky Connor confirmed “NHS Fife do not hold that information”.
Mr Rowley said: “I find it incredible that NHS Fife does not have this information.
”There will be a public enquiry to establish how all these organisations handled their responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic and that is right and proper but for now we must understand what went wrong so that the same mistakes are not made if there is a second spike or wave of the virus.”