NHS Fife and Fife Council are providing an update to local people following the announcement yesterday (10 Nov 2020) that Fife is moving to Level 3 of the Scottish Government COVID-19 framework.
The new restrictions for Fife, which come into force at 6am on Friday 13 November 2020, will likely impact on all of the Kingdom’s residents in one way or another, and both NHS Fife and Fife Council want to provide insight on how this decision was reached, and the science and data behind it.
Over recent months there has been a steady increase in the number of COVID-19 infections in Fife. In recent weeks, there has been a particularly sharp rise in the numbers of cases with a 40% increase in the number of cases per 100,000 across the course of just seven days.
A far greater proportion of those tested for COVID-19 are being shown to be positive and there is now clear evidence that the virus is circulating in communities across the whole of the Kingdom. This has led to clusters of COVID-19 cases developing in schools, care homes, workplaces and even a hospital ward.
NHS Fife Chief Executive, Carol Potter, said:
“There has been a steadily increasing prevalence of COVID-19 in Fife over recent months and we are now seeing a sharp and sudden spike, both in the number of cases and the proportion of those testing positive.
“We do not underestimate the effect that change to level 3 will have on local people – it will affect everyone living and working in Fife in some way or another. By acting now, we can begin to reverse the trend of rising cases and help to protect many of the most vulnerable in our communities. This can only be achieved by local people adhering to the new restrictions, and following the existing public health guidance around physical distancing, the wearing of face coverings where distancing is difficult, avoiding crowded places and maintaining good hand hygiene.
“Importantly, if local residents stick with the public health guidance in place then we will very likely start to see the numbers of cases recede and this will hopefully hasten the easing of the restrictions announced by the First Minister.”
Geography is also crucial factor in informing the decision over the level of restrictions in place. Fife sits geographically between level 3 areas – Lothian, Forth Valley and Dundee – meaning there is considerable travel between Fife and these areas for work and other reasons. Crucially, NHS Fife and Fife Council have being liaising with counterparts in these areas and taken their experience to help reduce transmission and minimise the impact of the restrictions on local people and businesses.
Fife Council's Chief Executive Steve Grimmond commented:
“The decision by the Scottish Government this week to move Fife into level three was not taken lightly. We have been very much involved in discussions with our partners leading up to the decision, and the sharp increase in cases locally means that, although this is tough, it’s the right thing to do.
“The huge impact that the rising number of cases is having on our communities is devastating. Our schools and our care homes are increasingly affected, and the evidence shows that most of these cases are beginning in our communities. Council services are on hand and going into communities to provide support where it’s needed. It's important to let us know if you need support, particularly if you are asked to self-isolate. There’s more information for individuals and businesses on www.fife.gov.uk/coronavirus and if you, or someone you know is not online, call the Fife COVID Community Helpline on 0800 952 0330.
“We have to act now, and we have to act together. We can make a difference and help stop the spread of the virus by following the public health guidance. Level three restrictions will not be easy to live with but it’s vital that we stick with this if we are to have hope of easing restrictions before Christmas.”
Anyone experiencing the well-established symptoms of COVID-19 should immediately self-isolate and arrange a test using the NHS inform website at: www.nhsinform.scot or by calling 0800 028 2816.
A local online support hub has been created to provide information on testing for COVID-19 and updates on the pandemic. Visit: www.nhsfife.org/coronavirus.
Issued: 11 November 2020