Families across Tayside will be able to visit loved ones inside care homes for the first time in months after restrictions were lifted by the local health board.
NHS Tayside announced that indoor care home visits will return on Saturday September 5 across the region in the wake of the Coupar Angus coronavirus outbreak.
The Incident Management Team (IMT) charged with controlling the 2 Sisters cluster decided to push back the reintroduction of indoor visits on August 23, the eve of the date when restrictions were due to be lifted.
However, with the number of new daily cases at the chicken factory remaining low the NHS Tayside Health Protection Team (HPT), in collaboration with Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross Health and Social Care Partnerships, has confirmed the measure can now be lifted.
The latest figures from Coupar Angus show there are 201 cases connected to the 2 Sisters outbreak including 174 factory workers and 27 community contacts.
Care homes will be able to welcome indoor guests as long as they have had their reopening plans and risk assessments reviewed and signed off by NHS Tayside HPT.
Dr Daniel Chandler, associate director of public health, believes the announcement will be of “great comfort” to families.
He said: “We have been able to make this decision thanks to the exceptional efforts of our contact tracing colleagues both locally and nationally.
“We have been able to map and investigate all new cases of COVID-19 across Tayside which gives us the confidence to reintroduce indoor visiting at care homes.
“We know this will be a great comfort to many people of Tayside, who can now visit their loved ones indoors.
“We will keep the situation under close review and will continue to work alongside care homes, the three Health and Social Care Partnerships and the Care Home Clinical Care Professional Oversight Team.”
The Scottish Government has set out guidance and criteria for care homes to follow and families are advised to contact individual facilities for visiting arrangements.
The lifting of the restriction comes after The Courier revealed Parkdale Care Home in Auchterarder was placed in lockdown for 28 days after a resident died after contracting coronavirus.
Barrie Thom, 93, was the first reported death from the virus in the local authority area since June 9 and the first in Tayside since June 25.
Perth and Kinross Council, which runs the home, said all residents and staff members have now been tested and anyone who is confirmed as positive or showing symptoms of the virus will be required to self-isolate.
Liz Smith, Conservative MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, said it would be a “worrying” time for those connected with the home.
She said: “I wish to pass on my condolences to the family of Barrie Thom.
“Closing Parkdale Care Home for 28 days is a move that is in the best interests of patient and public safety.
“It will however, be a worry for care home residents and their families and for all the staff involved.
“That is why every effort has to be made to improve track and trace and to ensure many more people have access to local Covid-19 testing.”