Health chiefs have launched an “urgent” public appeal after a new Covid cluster outbreak was linked to a ‘beer garden bash’ in a Midlothian pub.
NHS Lothian said “a number of people” who attended the outdoor event featuring three singers at The Foresters in Pathhead on Saturday, September 5 have tested positive for the virus.
News of the new cases emerged hours after National Clinical Director Jason Leitch said it was “up to the people of Lothian” to keep new infections down and warned that the region was on the virus watch list.
Public health consultants who issued the appeal said “urgent action is needed to prevent further spread of infection”.
The health authority requested anyone who was at the event, which was ticket-only and advertised as observing strict social distancing guidelines, to self-isolate for the remainder of the incubation period, up to and including this Saturday. The Foresters posted a video to its Facebook page on Saturday with the venue being deep cleaned with a “Covid-19 fog spray”.
Dr Duncan McCormick, Public Health Consultant at NHS Lothian and Chair of the expert group monitoring the situation, last night said:
“We have seen transmission of the virus among patrons who were at The Foresters Pub in Pathhead on September 5.
“All those who have tested positive so far have been contacted by the national Test and Protect Team and they and their contacts continue to self-isolate at home. A risk assessment has been done and we want everyone who was there to self isolate to help reduce the risk of onward spread.”
Dr McCormick added: “We know cases of Covid-19 are rising throughout Scotland and it is absolutely vital that we all do everything we can to turn this around. We would remind people that music in venues can encourage people to raise their voices which makes it easier for the virus to be transmitted.”
Close contacts of positive cases would be asked to self-isolate for 14 days from the last contact with a confirmed case.Given the time that has passed between the first person becoming ill and being tested, there are now only four days left of the 14 day incubation period.
NHS Lothian also revealed an outbreak at Drylaw Police Station which they said had “affected a small number of people”.It added that “all necessary guidance and advice has been provided” and stated that no further details of the outbreak would be released to respect and maintain patient confidentiality.
Their statement continues: “Everyone should continue to be vigilant and aware of the symptoms of Covid-19 and take all precautions, such as maintaining social distancing, regular hand washing and wearing a face covering where appropriate.If you experience a high fever, persistent cough or loss of taste or smell, you must self-isolate and order a test through the NHS inform website www.nhsinform.scot.”
NHS Lothian also revealed that its Health Protection Team has been working with Knox Academy and Preston Lodge High School in East Lothian after virus cases were reported.
Contact tracing at Knox Academy is complete and the health authority said “there is no evidence of transmission” within the school itself.Contract tracing is being carried out at Preston Lodge High School, which remains open.
Details of the fresh clusters emerged after Nicola Sturgeon said that Edinburgh and the Lothians remain “under review” over whether further Covid restrictions will be imposed but extra measures have been ruled out for now.
Earlier, the First Minister said health officials had considered whether to recommend that Lothian should be subjected to the same clampdown as a large area of the west of Scotland, where people are banned from visiting each other’s homes.
A further 53 people in Edinburgh and the Lothians had tested positive for coronavirus in the previous 24 hours, the First Minister told the daily briefing yesterday.
Mr Leitch said: “Lothian is next on the league table but there is no theme coming through from Test and Protect that tells us to do anything more than we have done across the whole country.
“It is up to the people of Lothian to get these numbers down and their individual behaviours will do that.”
But because there was no “theme” in the increase it was decided not to impose restrictions beyond those which apply to the whole of Scotland – what is being described as the “six-two rule”, limiting meetings inside or outside to six people from two households.
Ms Sturgeon said: “We are monitoring the case numbers in Lothian very closely.
“The national incident management team that made the recommendation to continue the restrictions in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde areas looked closely at Lothian and decided not to recommend any additional restrictions, but that remains under review.
“One of the reasons for that decision not to recommend additional restrictions at this stage is that unlike Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire there wasn’t a sense there was a particular driver that necessitated particular restrictions at this stage. But as with every aspect of Covid this is a changing and changeable situation, so we will monitor it.
“If everybody abides by the restrictions to limit meet-ups to six people from two households, if they all follow the FACTS advice, if they download the Protect Scotland app, if they do all of the right things then we can avoid any stricter restrictions in Lothian.”
Of the latest 267 cases, 101 were in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board, 59 in Lanarkshirea and 53 in Lothian.
The ban on households meeting up was imposed in Glasgow, West Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire and extended to Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire, then Lanarkshire.