Scotland tops table for highest Covid case rates in Europe

Professor Jason Leitch said that people in Scotland have got less natural immunity to the Delta variant.

Scotland tops table for highest Covid case rates in Europe iStock

Five Scottish health boards are in the top ten for areas with the highest Covid case rates in Europe, according to official statistics.

Figures published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicate that Tayside tops the table of nations described as ‘substantial’, with a 14-day incidence rate of 1146.

Lothian is second in the table, with 1079 cases, with Greater Glasgow and Clyde in fourth position, behind the North East of England, with a 14-day incidence rate of 824.

Fife comes in at eight, with a 14-day incidence of 646 and Lanarkshire is at nine, with 14-day incidence of 631.

Last week, Scotland broke the record for its highest number of new coronavirus cases in a day on three occasions.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon urged people to “take care and be cautious” amidst the rise in cases.

Speaking on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Monday, national clinical director Jason Leitch said that people in Scotland have got “less natural immunity”, due to the country not having topped the table throughout the pandemic.

He said: “Scotland has had some of the highest numbers across the UK and Europe. Of the top ten local authorities in the UK on the UK dashboard, five are English, five are Scottish.

“So, still some real difficulties in the north of England, but some real difficulties in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee.

“Challenges now in Portugal. Delta was a little bit slower to arrive in Western Europe, but I’m afraid it’s coming and you can see it just beginning to tick up and I fear that they’re going to have a big wave in the next few weeks”.

He added: “A couple of reasons for ours – seeded in Delta is the fundamental reason, the virus is the reason. It’s got seeded into our biggest, dense city in Glasgow and we’ve got less natural immunity because we haven’t been at the top of this league table throughout the pandemic.

“It’s not a league table you want to top, and I want to get us off there as quick as we possibly can.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The number of new cases is still a cause for concern and we are closely monitoring the situation. It was anticipated cases would rise as, with the agreement of Parliament, we moved out of lockdown restrictions and we are continuing to closely monitor hospitalisation data.

“As the health secretary (Humza Yousaf) and First Minister have said, the Delta variant which accounts for the overwhelming bulk of all new cases, is significantly more transmissible than previous variants and is helping to driving the recent steep rise in cases.

“In addition, there is around eight to 10% lower population immunity in Scotland, comparted to England and Wales, as fewer Scots had the virus in earlier stages, which makes the population potentially more susceptible to the Delta variant.

“England and Wales both recently had a mid-term holiday not observed in Scotland and contact patterns tend to drop during school holidays.”

They continued: “Last week we reached the milestone of having more than 50% of the entire population fully vaccinated and our priority is to extend our successful vaccine rollout as quickly as possible as quickly as we can.

“From Monday all mainland health boards will offer drop-in coronavirus (Covid-19) vaccination clinics as the programme nears completion of first doses for all adults in Scotland.

“The Test and Protect system has continued to operate well, meeting our closest proxy measure to the World Health Organisation criteria of closing 80% of close contacts within 72 hours.

“The majority of people comply when asked to self-isolate and we are thankful for the important role they are continue to play in stopping transmission of COVID-19. 74% of community based positive cases and their close contacts isolated entirely in line with the self-isolation guidance.”

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