COVID in Falkirk: 1000 cases in single day as Forth Valley managed peak of omicron variant

More than 1000 Covid cases in a single day were handled by Forth Valley NHS contact tracing team over the festive period as the Omicron variant took hold.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 12:13 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 5:04 pm

But while the Omicron variant saw case numbers soar to 16,000 a day in Scotland, it did not lead to a rise in numbers in intensive care that were seen earlier in the pandemic.

And although the hospital remains busy this month – with approximately 100 Covid positive in-patients – director of public health, Dr Graham Foster, says the peak has passed.

Dr Foster updated members of Forth Valley Health Board on Tuesday.

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Almost 800 in Forth Valley had positive covid tests in past 24 hours. Picture: Michael Gillen

He said: “The peak occurred both sooner and at a much less high level than initial modelling had suggested, which does lead us to believe that the combination of different measures in place had a blunting effect.”

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Long-term measures of hand-washing, social distancing and mask wearing were added to by restrictions in hospitality venues and mass gatherings – and testing also played its part.

“The take up of lateral flow testing has been tremendous. Surveys suggest over 70 per cent of the population are doing at least one lateral flow test a week and almost 50 per cent doing two or more tests in a week – so that’s really good and that seems to have made a big difference,” Dr Foster said.

Picture Michael Gillen

In early December, Forth Valley was seeing around 2500 Covid cases per day – which sharply rose as Omicron took hold.

And while numbers have flattened out, it continues to be high, with around 4000 cases a day.

“It’s a higher level, but it has stabilised and it looks likely that we’re going to run through the rest of January with a slowly declining level in a fluctuating plateau.”

Picture Michael Gillen

Dr Foster thanked all those involved in the massive immunisation task and the members of the test and protect teams, acknowledging that they have “worked tremendously hard to keep us safe”.

He told the board: “To give you a rough idea of what’s been going on, normally we were doing about 50 cases a day in terms of contact tracing during the summer in Forth Valley.

“That rose to about 250 cases a day in that December plateau.

“We hit a peak of 1187 cases to contact trace in one day on December 20 and we had 1097 cases to contact trace locally on January 3.

“As an example, last year on Christmas Day we had 55 cases to contact trace and thought that was a busy Christmas Day – this year we contact traced 468 separate cases and 451 on Boxing Day, so a really busy time.”

The director praised members of the public for taking on board lateral flow testing, which is now a key weapon in the fight against the virus.

He told the board that around 70 per cent of people now test at least once a week, before mixing with other people, while 60 per cent test at least twice.

Dr Foster added: “Although Omicron is going away, Covid hasn’t gone away – it’s still there and it doesn’t remove the risk of more variants appearing.

“With hundreds of thousands, if not millions of cases across the world there will almost inevitably there will from time to time be variants.”

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