A PUBLIC health consultant for the NHS board which covers Helensburgh and Lomond is calling on communities to increase their efforts in the fight against Covid-19 during 2021.

The appeal from Dr Ken Oates comes after a significant rise in the number of positive cases across the NHS Highland area over the last fortnight, with more than 700 cases since Christmas Eve.

Dr Oates, NHS Highland public health consultant, said: “Firstly, thank you so much for all your support so far. We recognise that 2020 was an extremely challenging year for everyone and that we all have made significant sacrifices to reduce the spread of Covid-19 cases as much as possible.

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“Unfortunately, there has been a significant increase in case numbers across the NHS Highland health board area in the last two weeks.

“We believe that this is due to pre-Christmas socialising, combined with people mixing indoors over the festive period. This has led to many extended family clusters and we would once again encourage people not to mix with others outside your household, as this is driving up infection rates.

“Please adhere to the new national guidance issued earlier this week to stay at home. We appreciate how challenging this has been for many people, however when the number of cases of Covid-19 rises in our communities, we inevitably also see an increase in positive cases in health care workers and care home staff.

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"This has a detrimental effect on NHS services as well as the health and wellbeing of some of the most vulnerable people in our communities.

“We must all take action to protect each other and the NHS. Please continue to follow the national guidance on Covid-19 including isolating at home if you feel unwell in any way, and seeking a Covid-19 test.

“Covid-19 will spread rapidly if given the opportunity, especially with the new strain which spreads much more easily. We are asking that everyone thinks about the risks that are involved in increasing the number of people you come into contact with and to please follow the rules to help us in reducing the spread of the virus.”

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