By Lucy Ashton

West Dunbartonshire has again soared to the top of the worst hit council areas for Covid as infections spread rapidly through schools and care homes.

It is understood some schools had several teaching staff off work despite having previously had positive coronavirus tests.

Five members of staff at Castle View care home in Castlegreen Street Street, Dumbarton, went into quarantine after returning positive tests.

Bosses there decided that visitors to residents would have to be curtailed and an appointment system was introduced to manage relatives and friends entering the home.

SNP-run West Dunbartonshire Council confirmed there were a small number of residential facilities affected and so too were schools, but they would not be drafting in additional workers to cover for people absent.

They told a local newspaper: “We recognise and appreciate the challenges faced by our teachers who have been a credit to their profession in they way they have continued to support our 14,000 young people [pupils] during the pandemic.

“The council, like every other local authority in Scotland, has seen an increase in the number of positive cases in schools along with education staff and pupils having to self isolate.

“We will continue to follow and be guided by the Scottish Government and Public Health to ensure our establishments are safe for both our children and employees.”

The infection rate across the region was 1165.9 per 100,000 people for the period between September 4 and 10, and there were 1030 new cases reported that week in this area alone.

Meanwhile cases of Covid in care homes soared by 269 percent at a national level within two weeks.

A spokesperson for HC-One, which runs Castle View care home, told a reporter: “This week, five colleagues have tested positive for Covid-19. All other colleagues and all residents have tested negative, demonstrating the strength of the infection control protocols we have in place.

“We immediately informed the local health and social care partnership, Public Health Scotland, and the Care Inspectorate, and we continue to work closely with these organisations.

“The colleagues who tested positive are currently self-isolating and we wish them a speedy recovery.

“As a precaution, and in agreement with our local partners, we have implemented a temporary appointment system for visitors. We are also continuing to require visitors to provide a negative lateral flow test, as is normal practice.

“The home and residents are well supported and we are grateful to families for their understanding at this time. We look forward to returning to normal very soon.”

The spokesperson added: “Our residents are our absolute priority and we have been taking all possible steps to keep them safe.”

West Dunbartonshire health and social care partnership confirmed there were some care homes which had recorded positive tests (rated amber by the authority’s scale) recently with chief officer Beth Culshaw saying that there was no concern over the relaxation of restrictions on visiting.

“There is no suggestion or evidence that relaxing visiting restrictions has had an impact on Covid infection. Visitors and staff continue to strictly adhere to infection control protocols including the use of PPE equipment and regular testing.”

Dumbarton MSP Jackie Baillie said: “This is an incredibly worrying spike in the number of Covid cases among some of the most vulnerable people in our community and across Scotland.

“We cannot repeat the mistakes of the earlier phase of the pandemic.

“Action must be taken now to protect the lives of our care home residents and those who care for them.”

Health secretary Humza Yousaf, pictured left,  said the trend here mirrored what was happening elsewhere in the country.

He explained: “At last count I saw that over 120 care homes have an outbreak of Covid.

“That’s not an insignificant number, and therefore difficult decisions that have to be made, but I can promise you that myself and my colleague, Kevin Stewart, we’re looking at this on a daily basis, to try to ensure that the rights of care home relatives are paramount.”

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