A “small number” of staff at Castle Douglas Hospital have tested positive for coronavirus.

The outbreak was discovered as a result of regular testing of workers.

The news comes as 20 people in the region lost their lives to the virus last week – the highest weekly total since the pandemic began.

Castle Douglas and Crocketford councillor Iain Howie said: “This outbreak at Castle Douglas Hospital again demonstrates the risks our NHS staff take on our behalf and I would like to take this opportunity of thanking them for their dedication in extremely trying times.

“However, it is incumbent on us all to do what we can to keep ourselves safe and reduce the workload on the NHS. With the vaccination programme now being delivered this is not the time to be complacent and hopefully within a few months we’ll see a return to some form of normality.”

The News understands at least four members of staff had tested positive although there have been no cases discovered amongst patients.

A health board spokesman said: “A small number of cases of Covid-19 have been identified among staff at Castle Douglas Cottage Hospital.

“At present there is no indication that these cases represent a transfer of the coronavirus within the hospital itself.

“These positives are a result of routine testing of asymptomatic staff in order to guard against Covid-19 which we know to be widespread within our communities - driven by the new variant.

“Protocols are in place to prevent transmission but as would be expected a response has been mounted to this development.

“Testing of patients revealed no positive cases and the hospital is open to admissions.”

National Records of Scotland revealed yesterday that 20 people in Dumfries and Galloway had lost their lives due to coronavirus in the past week.

It takes the total for 2021 to 24 and the overall figure to 104.

A further four residents have died as a result of a coronavirus outbreak at Stranraer’s Thorney Croft Care Home, taking the total there to 10.

NRS base their figure on the number of cases where Covid-19 is mentioned on the death certificate with 7,448 Scots now having lost their lives since the pandemic began.

The figure announced by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon during her daily briefing is calculated using the number of people to have died within 28 days of testing positive for Covid-19.

There had been 5,468 deaths in Scotland by that measure by Wednesday.
Yesterday, a further 43 people tested positive for coronavirus in Dumfries and Galloway, taking the total for 2021 to 1,572. There have now been 3,277 cases in the region since the pandemic began.

There are currently 69 people in hospital with 14 in intensive care.

On Tuesday, Ms Sturgeon announced that the current lockdown measures would last until at least the middle of February.

The restrictions – which include everyone having to stay at home except for essential purposes and non-essential shops remaining closed – were due to run out at the end of January but have beenextended as transmission rates are still too high

The country’s schools will also remain closed, with a review of the situation due on February 2.

However, with transmission rates still too high, they have now been extended until mid February.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Any relaxation of lockdown while case numbers remain high, even though they might be declining, could quickly send the situation into reverse.

“We believe that the lockdown restrictions - and the sacrifices everyone continues to make - are beginning to have an impact. However, it is important to be cautious.

“I continue to be very grateful to people across the country for their patience and resilience in the face of this extraordinary challenge.

“At the moment, lockdown is the best way of keeping each other safe, as vaccination continues. It is how we can protect ourselves and our loved ones.”