Aberdeen local lockdown to be reviewed

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Bars have been closed in Aberdeen since last Wednesday

The local lockdown imposed in Aberdeen a week ago after a spike in coronavirus cases is due for review later.

Since last Wednesday pubs and restaurants have been closed and restrictions on travel and visiting other households have been in place.

So far 165 cases have been linked to the cluster and 875 contacts of infected people have been traced.

The first minister has said it will not last longer than necessary but she has not ruled out an extension.

At Tuesday’s coronavirus briefing, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Having come this far, it would be a mistake to lift them just too soon, so we need to be sure it is really under control.”

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The government says it will not lift restrictions until it is certain chains of transmission are broken

National clinical director Jason Leitch also sounded a cautious note, saying the decision would be based on “how well we have caught the chains of transmission”.

“You can see over the last few days a kind of slowing of the number, but they are not coming down yet, we are not back to normal,” he said.

“This virus is still spreading within a community that relates back to those initial examples nearly two weeks ago now.

“I am encouraged by what is happening, it is working how we predicted it would work – the Aberdeen semi-lockdown is doing what we expected – but remember the virus doesn’t work in 24 chunks.

“It works in seven and 14-day chunks more likely so we’re not yet over that hump completely. I cannot say with any real authority that we have reached the end of every chain of this transmission.”

On Tuesday it emerged that one person who is among a cluster of five cases in north east Angus had been linked to the Aberdeen outbreak.

All are showing mild symptoms and have not required hospital treatment

Health officials in Aberdeenshire are also investigating a potential cluster in the Stonehaven/Portlethen area, but no connection to Aberdeen has yet been established.

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The first cases were linked to The Hawthorn bar

The local lockdown in Aberdeen was announced after a number of cases were initially linked to the Hawthorn Bar early in August.

By last Wednesday, the total number of cases had risen to 54, prompting the reintroduction of restrictions for 228,000 people in the area.

These included:

  • bars, cafes, restaurants and pubs closed
  • no travel more than five miles for leisure or holidays
  • no travel to the city for leisure or to visit friends and family, even if you live in Aberdeenshire
  • no indoor visits with other households
  • visiting suspended for most hospitals

A day later it emerged that eight Aberdeen FC players had visited the city’s Soul bar the previous Saturday and two later tested positive for Covid-19.

The revelation angered the first minister, and has led to the cancellation of planned matches.

By Tuesday 165 cases had been linked to the outbreak but none has required hospital treatment. While 875 contacts have been identified, the number of individuals could be fewer as there may be some overlap between cases.

Lack of physical distancing

NHS Grampian last week issued a list of 28 bars and cafes, and four sporting clubs linked to the outbreak, but now says all bars in the city are affected because of a widespread lack of physical distancing.

Dr Emmanuel Okpo, consultant in public health medicine, said: “It is clear from our investigations to date that a lack of physical distancing has been the significant factor in the spread of these cases.

“While pubs and restaurants have guidelines to work to, to support physical distancing, it is also the responsibility of each one of us to keep our distance.

“Last week we circulated a list of pubs and restaurants which we had compiled during the course of our interviews with all detected cases at that point. This list was not shared to assign blame to any individual premises.

“We now consider that all licensed premises in Aberdeen are likely affected in some way. This is because physical distancing – or the lack of it – has come up repeatedly in our investigation. I would stress again that we must all take personal responsibility for physical distancing.”

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