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Covid ‘red zones’ declared amidst new care home deaths

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By Abbey Morton and Euan Maxwell
Covid 'red zones' declared amidst new care home deaths

Six residents of Charnwood Lodge Care Home in Dumfries have died this week following a Coronavirus outbreak.

Furthermore, a single resident is in hospital receiving treatment.

The deaths are the first in the region since September 27.

A further 109 new cases of Covid-19 were confirmed in the region in the last week, bringing the cumulative total to 733.

In response, the Test and Protect team asked 267 close contacts to self-isolate.

And Public Health Scotland has classed Annan East and Gretna as ‘red zones’, the highest grade, where there have been seven and eight cases respectively in the last seven days.

It has also been confirmed that several members of staff at Gretna surgery are self-isolating following a coronavirus outbreak. Patients phoning the surgery for appointments this week were told that “due to circumstances beyond our control, Gretna Surgery is operating with very limited resources,” advising anyone with emergencies to call 999, and that anyone looking to speak to a GP would be waiting “quite a while.”

Lydiafield Care Home in Annan has also reported an outbreak, alongwith Westfield Care Home in Lockerbie.

A spokesman for NHS Dumfries and Galloway stated the situations at the care homes aren’t causing alarm.

He said: “At this point, these situations are not currently causing an undue concern. Residents, their families and staff are being kept informed, and the care home operators are working closely with Public Health and the local authority.”

In total, 3194 tests were carried out in the week, and the results revealed a positivity rate for Dumfries and Galloway of about 3.6 per cent.

As of yesterday afternoon, there were nine people in Dumfries hospital with the virus.

A spokesman for the NHS said the health and social care partnership had been working closely with Community Integrated Care – the charity which runs Charnwood Lodge – to ensure necessary plans and protocols are in place to manage the outbreak.

Managing director of the charity Martin McGuigan said: “As soon as the outbreak developed, we took immediate action.

“We conducted a full decontamination of the home and implemented a number of additional robust infection control measures.

“It is, however, with great sadness, that we have lost five people we support as a result of the virus and our hearts go out to their loved ones, as well as our colleagues.

“We have been astounded by the incredible efforts and professionalism of the entire staff team who have done their

utmost to support residents, families and each other through this incredibly challenging time.

“We will continue to work closely with the local authority and public health teams to ensure that we are taking all necessary steps to protect everyone within the home and provide the practical and emotional support needed.”

A spokesman for Dumfries and Galloway Health and Social Care Partnership praised the charity and staff but said: “This has been proving a very difficult and concerning situation.

“Work was undertaken to contain the spread of Covid-19, and this has not been an easy task against this highly infectious virus.

“This outbreak has again demonstrated just how highly transmissible the Covid-19 virus is, even when the correct protocols are being observed.”

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