Arran almost virus clear but danger is not too far away

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Arran was this week continuing to escape the worst of the coronavirus pandemic.

But figures from just across the water in Ayrshire showed why First Minister Nicola Stugeon’s Stay at Home message appears to be the right one for the island and the rest of Scotland at the moment.

According to the latest statement from Arran Medical Group earlier this week there have been no positive COVID-19 tests on Arran in the last two weeks and the total for the island remains five positive cases, plus a small number in the community that they were unable to test.

AMG also confirmed that there are currently no positive cases in Arran War Memorial Hospital,  but says there are still people isolating at home with possible COVID symptoms and that social distancing is reducing possible  spread.

On the topic of testing, the North Ayrshire Heath and Social Care Partnership said: ‘We are hopeful that increasing testing capacity will become available on Arran in the coming one to two weeks and expand in the weeks after.  It is very important that a robust system is in place to detect any cases that may arise when lockdown is reduced.’

However the situation is very different just across the water where mainland North Ayrshire residents have been rated as the most vulnerable to COVID-19 in Scotland.

In a report from the Scottish Public Health Observatory, the area has been ranked as most at risk during the pandemic when considering social, clinical and demographic factors in places such as the Three Towns, Irvine and the Garnock Valley.

Central Ayrshire MP Philippa Whitford said: ‘Sadly, we know North Ayrshire is home to some of the most deprived areas in the country and earlier research into COVID-19 has shown that those from lower socio-economic groups are more vulnerable to the virus.

‘This is due to a number of factors, including these groupings being more likely to have underlying health conditions, to work in the gig economy and be forced to continue working, and live in overcrowded accommodation.’

The SNP politician added: ‘It should be noted, however, that in terms of Ayrshire as a whole, this has not been reflected in either the number of cases, admissions to hospitals or, indeed, the number of deaths, which are not as high as other health board areas across the country.’

In mainland North Ayrshire at least 68 people have died after contracting the virus according to figures released by National Records of Scotland last week. A total of 75 people lost their lives in South Ayrshire, while 49 died in East Ayrshire.  The victims’ death certificates stated that COVID-19 contributed to or caused their loss of life.

On Monday, the Scottish Government confirmed there are now 912 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ayrshire and Arran.

Meanwhile, more than 300 NHS Ayrshire & Arran healthcare workers have tested positive for coronavirus.

Figures released by health board bosses this week show that 302 front line workers have now contracted the deadly bug. This is a rise of 28 from the previous week.

A total of 1,321 tests have been carried out on the key workers and a further 293 tests have been given to family members/ household contacts of members of staff.

Health board chiefs also confirmed that 180 inpatients who had tested positive for COVID-19 have been discharged.