South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has warned people to ‘stay vigilant’ after nine new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Dumfries and Galloway.

The nine cases were identified in the Gretna and Annan areas since Monday. National Clinical Director Professor Jason Leitch told the Scottish Government daily press conference that these cases had a link to the north west of England. He added that a cross-border incident management team had been put in place to trace contact of those involved.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway said each person is currently self-isolating, and work continues to take place through the local Test and Protect system to identify their recent contacts and to make any necessary testing arrangements in a bid to limit any further exposure.

Before these new cases there had not been any increase in cases in Dumfries and Galloway since 22 June.

Colin Smyth said: “This is further proof that this terrible virus is still out there, and it is more important than ever that people remain vigilant.

“This means social distancing by keeping two metres away from others where possible, maintaining high levels of hand hygiene and wearing face coverings on public transport or in an enclosed space. It is also extremely important that if anyone starts showing symptoms of Covid-19, that they self-isolate immediately and book a test as soon as possible.

“We are not out of the woods yet and it is only by adhering to guidelines that we can ensure that new cases are kept to a minimum.

“First and foremost, people need to act responsibly, use common sense and remember that this pandemic has killed many people in our region and ultimately saving lives is the most important consideration in everything we do.

“These new cases appear to be a specific, localised cluster and I have no doubt there will be similar cases in the months ahead. The importance of NHS Dumfries and Galloway and Cumbria working together to fully track and trace these cases and ask those who have come into contact with those with COVID-19 to self-isolate whatever side of the border those contacts have happened, cannot be overstated. A successful test and trace system is vital to keep such localised outbreaks to a minimum.

“We need to focus on that work instead of the bickering between the Scottish and UK Government over so-called border controls and quarantining people moving between Scotland and England and vice versa, which is a complete distraction.”

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