Two health boards in Scotland have the highest rate of Covid-19 in Europe over the last seven days according to data from the World Health Organisation (WHO).
NHS Lanarkshire and NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde topped WHO’s list of Covid incidence rates in European “subnational regions” over the last seven days.
The list measures Covid rates per 100,000.
In the last week, cases in NHS Lanarkshire have more than doubled to a rate of 1,125 in 100,000, with the health board being the worst hit in Europe.
Earlier this week, NHS Lanarkshire took the decision to temporarily postpone the majority of non-urgent planned care procedures for two weeks to free up staff and beds for urgent care as staff struggle to cope with the “relentless pressures” of the significant rise in cases.
On Friday, August 27, Dr John Logan, NHS Lanarkshire’s acting director of public health said that hospital numbers had “almost doubled” and encouraged locals to get vaccinated and continue to test to prevent the spread.
Dr Logan said: “We strongly encourage people who have not been vaccinated to get vaccinated and for everyone to do a Covid test twice per week, especially before going to work, attending events, meeting people or visiting the vulnerable.
“The more the virus spreads undetected, the greater the number of cases of infection and the greater the chance new variants can take hold. By having regular tests and taking up the vaccine offer, we keep infections down.
“We are now beginning to see extremely high Covid-19 case numbers across Lanarkshire.
“While the majority of the adult population has received two doses of the vaccine, we are extremely concerned as we are beginning to see higher numbers of Covid patients in our hospitals which are already struggling to cope with demand on staff and services.
“If you have had the vaccine or a negative test result, it is still important to remember the basics – keep your distance, wear a face covering and clean your hands. Limit the number of contacts you have, especially with people who have not been vaccinated. If you are planning to meet others, please meet outside whenever possible.
“We are particularly concerned about vulnerable people, especially those who haven’t had two doses of the vaccine, who are more likely to develop severe disease and need admission to intensive care.”
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde were second highest on the WHO list with 1,017 cases of Covid-19 per 100,000.
On Friday, essential visiting only rules were applied to Glasgow Royal Infirmary within the nightingale wards.
The health board said that the decision had not been taken lightly, but had been put in place to help protect patients, visitors and staff as Glasgow Royal Infirmary has also experienced an increase in Covid-19 hospital admissions.
There were particular issues within the nightingale wards with open accommodation where separation of patients and their visitors is more challenging and social distancing and other mitigations against Covid are more difficult to observe, which is the reason for the temporary changes.
Jennifer Rodgers, Deputy Nurse Director, said: “This has been a difficult decision, but it is essential to help protect our patients, visitors and staff. We recognise how difficult this is for patients and the people that matter most to them and we will keep this under close review so that we can return to person centred visiting as soon as possible.
“For those who plan to visit a relative at Glasgow Royal Infirmary and are unsure of what visiting guidelines apply, please either call the ward or go to our website where you will find more information.
“If you are visiting any of our hospitals, we strongly recommend that you have a Voluntary Lateral Flow Test prior to visiting and then undertake these twice per week for as long as you are a visitor.”
NHS Lothian, NHS Ayrshire and Arran, NHS Forth Valley and NHS Dumfries and Galloway were also listed within the top ten European Covid hotspots.
Covid cases in Scotland have roughly doubled every week since restrictions eased, leading to an increase in hospital admissions.
More than 7,000 new cases were recorded on Sunday.