THE number of people shielding in Argyll and Bute has increased by nearly half since lockdown measures began, a report has revealed.

More than 3,000 people in the council area are shielding at home because they are considered to be at particularly high risk from Covid-19.

The Scottish Government recently told people who are shielding that they would have to continue doing so until the end of lockdown - though measures introduced on June 18 allow them to take outdoor exercise, and to meet with one other household in a group of up to eight, maintaining social distancing.

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A report prepared for Argyll and Bute Council's business continuity committee stated that the total figure of 3,179 is around 1,000 more than the number first asked to shield.

The report does not say how many of those 3,179 people live in Helensburgh and Lomond.

Executive director Douglas Hendry said in his report: “Council staff are involved in proactive outreach calls to people who are shielding to ensure that they are able to access the support that they need.

“This includes offering access to emotional support for anyone who is struggling. There have been more than 300 requests for pharmacy assistance – with staff carrying out nearly 740 medicine deliveries.”

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Mr Hendry’s report also revealed that approximately 7,500 calls have been received by the council’s helpline set up to deal with the Covid-19 outbreak.

The council’s online services and information for residents and business during the pandemic have also been well-used.

Mr Hendry added: “Almost half of all calls relate to ‘care for people’ queries, with benefits and business advice also featuring.

“Out of hours and urgent call levels have dropped considerably since the helpline’s earlier stages and this reflects the reducing urgency and intensity of the overall response.

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“Online web forms have been used for over 3,700 requests for support from the beginning of lockdown to the end of May.

“Again there is an evident reduction in requests accompanied by fewer coronavirus web page views – overall these resources have been viewed 220,000 times since they were first put in place prior to lockdown in March.

“Despite the recent drop in usage there have still been around 9,300 page views per week in June.”

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