People living in Inverclyde should not be scared to use pharmacies, Scotland’s national clinical director has said, after one was linked to a cluster of coronavirus cases.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (NHSGGC) confirmed on Wednesday night that eight positive Covid-19 cases had been identified in the area, with a “thorough investigation” under way.
Several businesses including a pharmacy are linked to the cases, with a worker at Amazon’s warehouse in Gourock also among those to have tested positive.
In the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed it was the M&D Pharmacy in Port Glasgow that was affected.
Jason Leitch told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme that further contact tracing would continue on Thursday and labelled pharmacies in the area as “safe”.
He said: “If (closing businesses) were necessary then we would do so.
“Today we’ve been in touch with the pharmacy and we’re very comfortable with how the pharmacy has behaved both up to this point and yesterday.
“The pharmacy is open, the pharmacy is safe, the pharmacy is having interventions like testing other people or any contacts that were there and all of that is in hand.
“People should not be scared to use pharmacies in this area … remember, it’s a healthcare environment so very used to PPE, very used to distancing.
“As far as we can tell they have followed the instructions really well … it’s really important that we don’t stigmatise positive cases.”
A spokesman for Amazon said: “We are supporting the individual, who is now in quarantine.
“Since the early days of this situation we have worked closely with health authorities to proactively respond, ensuring we continue to serve communities while taking care of our associates, and we’re following guidelines from health officials about the operations of our buildings.
“We have implemented proactive measures to protect employees including increased cleaning at all facilities and maintaining social distance.”
In a bid to curb any further spread of coronavirus in the area, the SNP group leader at Inverclyde Council has also raised the possibility of a local lockdown.
Chris McEleny said: “The confirmed positive tests are of the most serious concern.
“People in Inverclyde have been dedicated to keeping themselves and others safe to tackle the coronavirus.
“However, our area has been worse hit than any other part of Scotland.
“If there is a compelling case that local Inverclyde lockdown measures being introduced again will keep people safer and protect lives then this should be given serious consideration.”
Asked about that – and its connections to another cluster at the Sitel call centre in North Lanarkshire – Mr Leitch said the local lockdown measure would always be kept “in reserve”.
“We’ve always said that clusters are one thing – this is eight people with a number of contacts into their families and into places they perhaps visited, a bit like Sitel,” he said.
“Sitel was a big location of 600 people in the one building and we didn’t have to say, for instance, ‘It’s out in the community in Coatbridge, we’re now thinking probably let’s shut the pubs and restaurants’.
“That is always in reserve, and if we thought this virus had gone into community transmission mode, like we saw in early and late March, then we would of course do something more dramatic and we would hope to be able to do that in a localised area rather than a national lockdown.
“At this point this outbreak is behaving exactly like the previous two – the public health community, those working all day yesterday and overnight are working really hard to prevent that happening, and that appears to be going well so far.”
A statement from NHSGGC on Wednesday said: “Contact tracing of individuals has identified a number of businesses across Greater Glasgow and Clyde, including a pharmacy in Inverclyde, as being linked to the cases.
“An NHSGGC-led incident management team is working with Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland (HPS) and local environmental health teams to provide advice and support.
“None of the cases are experiencing anything but mild symptoms.
“Close contacts are being advised to self-isolate and other identified contacts are being followed up and given appropriate advice.
“To respect and maintain patient confidentiality no further details will be released at this time.”
At a coronavirus update in the chamber at Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon told MSPs: “I want to thank those businesses for acting swiftly and for fully cooperating with the guidance and procedures to contain this cluster.
“An incident management team led by NHSGGC met yesterday afternoon and will meet again today.
“It is working with the Scottish Government, Health Protection Scotland and local environmental health teams to trace contacts and do everything necessary to minimise onward transmission.
“I am grateful for these efforts. We will, of course, provide more details as and when they become available.”
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