If we needed a reminder that these are not normal times, then the news that new restrictions have had to be imposed in West Dunbartonshire due to a spike in Covid-19 infections has been a real wake up call.
More than 800,000 people across the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area are now subject to additional lockdown measures on indoor household gatherings. Having spoken with the Deputy First Minister, council leaders and health officials it’s clear that these difficult decisions have not been taken lightly.
The global pandemic is the biggest public health crisis in living memory, and when lives are at stake doing nothing is not an option. Whilst cases are still relatively low compared to the height of the outbreak, local transmission rates are undoubtedly on the rise again and it’s right that early preventative action is taken and targeted where needed.
I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents asking why local pubs and restaurants aren’t also required to close just now as they did for the Aberdeen outbreak. Nobody wants to see a return to strict full lockdown measures, which is why the Scottish Government is trying to take a balanced approach to stem the spread of the virus whilst minimising disruption to our daily lives as much as possible.
The evidence from local Test and Protect teams is that transmission in West Dunbartonshire is being driven primarily by indoor household gatherings at the moment, rather than in the hospitality settings which were identified in Aberdeen.
The situation is being kept under close review and we all hope that these new restrictions do not have to be extended further after the two week period. Each of us has a responsibility to continue playing our part in keeping the virus under control to protect ourselves and others in our communities.
The more effective we are in sticking to the public health guidance the quicker these restrictions can be lifted. For anyone who develops symptoms of Coronavirus – a persistent cough, fever or loss of taste/ smell – it’s vital that you immediately self-isolate and book a test through NHS Inform either online or via the helpline 0800 028 2816.
I have been pressing for improved testing facilities in West Dunbartonshire and I’m pleased that a dedicated Covid-19 testing centre is now up and running at the Meadow Centre in Dumbarton.
Home testing kits should also be available for anyone who needs one. If you live in West Dunbartonshire and have difficulties in accessing a test please contact me so I can take this up with the relevant authorities.
We can succeed in beating this virus by staying safe and looking out for each other.
This article was written for publication in the Dumbarton and Vale of Leven Reporter.