Stirling Council leader issues plea over rising Covid cases
The leader of a Scottish council which has seen a sharp rise in Covid cases has issued a plea for people to protect each other and stick to the rules.
Scott Farmer heads Stirling Council, whose area is now being monitored for a potential move into level four restrictions.
He said that in a matter of weeks, Stirling had gone from Forth Valley's lowest area of concern to the highest.
It is currently in level three of the Scottish government's five-tier scale.
According to the Scottish government's daily figures, NHS Forth Valley has gone from 2,979 cases on 6 November, to 3,314 on 13 November.
Stirling was mentioned by Deputy First Minister John Swinney in Friday's daily briefing as an area which had experienced a spike in infections.
It currently has the highest rates of Covid-19 per 100,000 people in the Forth Valley area with 165 compared to 79 for Clackmannanshire Council and 71 for Falkirk Council.
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Mr Farmer said: "The virus is entering our schools, care homes and communities. People are still losing their lives, their loved ones and their jobs.
"Our fear is that a lack of compliance with the national guidance is allowing the virus to take hold again, so we owe it to each other to take a step back and ask ourselves – are we really doing all we can as individuals, families and communities to stop the spread?"
He added: "The restrictions we are currently under are incredibly difficult for us all, but they serve to protect us, and if they're ignored then the ripple effect can spread far beyond our own households.
"We're at a crucial point in our battle to contain this lethal virus and I'm pleading with the people of Stirling – prove our community spirit to the rest of Scotland and let's take responsibility for protecting each other."
A mobile Covid-19 testing unit was announced on Friday for the areas of Bannockburn, Plean and Cowie, which have seen a rise in positive tests.
It will be based at Bannockburn High School on Saturday and Sunday before moving around other community venues in the next seven days.
NHS Forth Valley consultant in public health, Dr Henry Prempeh, said: "This is a precautionary measure but one which we feel is essential due to Bannockburn and these surrounding areas being such close-knit communities. I would encourage local people to book a test even if they currently feel well as there is evidence that some people can have Covid-19 without displaying any of the common symptoms."
The health board's director of public health, Dr Graham Foster, said the number of Covid-19 cases in the Stirling area had not fallen as expected, despite level three restrictions being in place.
He said: "We know that the level three measures set out in the national framework have been very effective in some areas and are disappointed that rates in Stirling have been slow to come down and in fact have risen sharply in the last few weeks.
"This is partly due to an increase in cases in care homes however we need everyone to pull together and carefully follow the guidance if we are to limit the spread of this virus."
A total of 1,357 new cases of COVID-19 were reported in Scotland on Friday, with a further 56 deaths of people who have tested positive.
Stirling joins councils within NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde on a watch list of areas which may be put into level four.
A move to level four would see the closure of gyms, hospitality and non-essential shops.
Mr Swinney said the national incident management team would be looking at the data over the weekend.
Discussions will also take place with councils before ministers meet on Tuesday to take any decisions.
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