THE NEW variant of COVID-19 is causing a “massive surge” of positive cases across the region, NHS Dumfries and Galloway has said.
And it is warning that rates are currently “far above” those across the rest of Scotland.
It comes as the health board announced earlier today that 106 new positive Coronavirus cases and two new deaths caused by the virus have been recorded, bringing the region’s total to 2602 and the death toll to 73 since the start of the pandemic.
Furthermore, the new highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant has shown up in 89 per cent of cases tested through mobile testing unit, compared with 54 per cent across Scotland.
In a statement, NHS Dumfries and Galloway’s Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “The challenge we face as a region is unlike anything we’ve confronted to date. In short, the impact of this new variant is a complete and dramatic game changer.
“The latest data shows the new variant accounts for nearly 90 per cent of our cases tested through the Mobile Testing Units.
“In the space of just two or three short weeks, we’ve seen Dumfries and Galloway with its population of about 150,000 people move from being a region with some of the lowest rates of COVID to being near the top across the whole of Scotland in terms of infection rates.
“Although this new strain is incredibly highly transmissible, COVID does not move around and infect new people by itself; the risk is controlled by us and our contact with others.
“Currently, data is revealing that in addition to the hundreds of confirmed cases of the new variant there could be still many more cases across the region, some of whom will be asymptomatic, potentially spreading that infection without their knowledge.
“This is a message to you, as an individual. Everyone has a responsibility here. There can be no ‘it’s just me’ exceptions. This new variant offers no margin for that risk, by anyone.
“Please, though, know that our health and social care services are still here to help, and are geared to protect against COVID, so do not hesitate to get in touch if you have a medical condition. Do, though, consider the best first point of help.”