Residents in parts of Dumfries and Galloway have been urged to ‘stay at home’ after an outbreak of coronavirus in the area.
Covid cases in Wigtownshire have more than doubled in the last two days.
The number of confirmed cases in the town grew from 64 to 142 between Boxing Day and Monday.
The cluster has been linked to the new B.1.1.7 variant of the virus and an outbreak in Stranraer represents the single biggest increase seen in one area of Dumfries and Galloway since the start of the global pandemic.
Meanwhile, there is also concern around a growing number of cases in lower Annandale where the new variant has also been identified.
Additional testing is now being put in place daily over the next week in Stranraer, from December 29 to January 4.
Meanwhile, an appeal is being issued for people not just follow all the new Level 4 restrictions, but where possible to go beyond them – by trying to stay at home as much as possible and help limit the spread, both locally and potentially to other parts of the region.
Interim Director of Public Health Valerie White said: “We said just two days ago that we suspected there could be many cases of COVID in Wigtownshire as yet unidentified, and we’d like to thank everyone experiencing symptoms who has self-isolated and come forward to be tested.
“However, this is a rapidly evolving situation where we expect to see more cases appearing. At the current rate of spread, there is a very serious concern about how this will impact on services.
“In the days to come, a percentage of people among these newly diagnosed Covid cases will grow ill and the number of people needing hospitalisation is likely to increase – potentially impacting on our ability to provide help to those people who need it for any number of other non-COVID reasons – whether that’s heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, etc.
“It’s therefore vital that everyone follows the Level 4 directions and the FACTS guidance about use of face coverings, hand hygiene and physical distancing and social interaction.
“Covid does not just impact on those who develop the coronavirus, or who experience the worst of its symptoms – at this rate of increase, the effect of its rapid spread could be felt by anyone across the entire community.
“Real thought is required by everyone about what they can do to slow the spread. In particular, please be conscious of the threat posed at New Year, and consider the potential consequences both personally and community-wide.”