South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has described the latest figures from NHS Dumfries and Galloway that show that 24 people in the region have died after testing positive for Covid-19 as “heartbreaking for local families”.

The local health board confirmed today that a further seven people passed away in the past week where Covid-19 was believed to be the primary cause or a contributing factor, with all but three of the deaths in hospital.

As of yesterday, 199 people had tested positive in Dumfries and Galloway for Covid-19, with people in hospital with confirmed or suspected cases.

Colin Smyth said: “These figures are heart-breaking for local families. We should never forget that behind them are families and friends who have lost loved ones, and my thoughts will continue to be with them all at this terrible time.

“As the numbers with Covid-19 grow, I will continue to call on the Scottish Government to increase testing. All the international evidence shows that maximising testing saves lives.

“Across Scotland we should have been testing not just those with symptoms who needed medical care but frontline NHS and care staff right from the very start.

“They are the ones putting their own health at risk to help others and we owe them a huge debt of gratitude. It is a scandal that so few of them have so far been tested across Scotland as it is clear that many will have the virus but won’t have symptoms.

“We need to keep urging everyone to do what they can to help our NHS and their partners, starting by heeding the government’s advice and staying at home. The weather might be improving but we need to ensure we don’t relax the rules in any circumstances.”

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