The leader of Dundee City Council has expressed a “degree of nervousness” about Covid-19 restrictions relaxing at Christmas
John Alexander’s comments came after a visit to Dundee University’s Covid-19 testing centre yesterday, as students undergo screening before returning home this month.
He said: “For Dundee, it’s a big issue, in the sense that one-in-six of our population is a student at any one time.
“A lot of those will be Dundee-based, they are less of a concern, but it’s the students who could well be carrying the virus but are unaware, and are going to other areas of Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and taking that virus with them – and the result of that being a greater number of cases spread.”
Mr Alexander said he was impressed by how the university had rallied to test the city’s student population.
“They’ve already tested more than 3,500 students, I think by the end of the day they would be looking at in excess of 4,000,” he said.
“So, it’s really important, and again, it will be just as important on the other side of Christmas, when there is that phased return to universities because inevitably, people will require testing within their local area to make sure that they’re not bringing the virus back to the university campus as well.”
From Friday, restrictions in Angus will drop from Level 3 to Level 2, while restrictions across Scotland will relax temporarily over a five-day Christmas window.
“Whilst everybody wants it, there’s also a big risk associated with that, and that’s why there’s a degree of nervousness.” Mr Alexander said.
"The only way to get through this pandemic is to follow the rules."
Hear Maureen's plea to Dundonians as she tells how Covid-19 still impacts on her, 8 months on.
Please #StickWithIt & help prevent the spread of the virus.
For more info and support, see https://t.co/MK03hj3OSE pic.twitter.com/USTV0QIAKy
— Dundee City Council (@DundeeCouncil) December 10, 2020
“The more we can do to test people, to isolate those who are carrying the virus but are not aware of it, the better it is for all of us – so that we come out of 2020 and hopefully, from a Dundee perspective, we start dropping down from Level 3, to Level 2 and then hopefully to Level 1.”
Mr Alexander held a virtual meeting on Sunday with Aileen Campbell MSP and national clinical director Jason Leitch to discuss Dundee’s situation.
At my request, I met with the Cab Sec for Local Government, some of her team and the National Clinical Director on Sunday to discuss the Covid-19 situation in Dundee.
There is a joined up approach between local and national government and direct dialogue is key. pic.twitter.com/GlDm67Tzf7
— Cllr John Alexander (@CllrAlexander) December 9, 2020
While he accepted the medical and scientific data behind the decision to remain in Level 3, Mr Alexander said he was “very conscious” of its impact on the city’s economy.
Dundee currently has 114 cases per 100,000 people – a significant drop from 150-160 cases a month ago.
“But it has increased again; we had dropped down to just below 100 cases per 100,000 and now it’s started to creep back up,” he said.
“So that’s a concern, and the reason it’s a big concern is because of Christmas. I think if we were not conscious of Christmas and the risk associated with that, it might be more likely that Dundee may be dropping down to Level 2.”
The roll-out of the vaccine offered a glimpse of the end to Covid-19 restrictions, he said.
However, he warned: “The minute people think, ‘Screw it, we’ll go back to normality – I’m sick of all this’, is the moment the cases increase rapidly and we end up having to escalate the response to try and contain the spread of the virus.”
The council leader also warned that it is not only older or vulnerable people who can be seriously affected by Covid-19.
The video below, released by the council, describes Abertay student Evie’s experience of coronavirus – where she felt “like someone was sitting on her chest” as she struggled to breathe.
"I've never been so ill in my life."
Hear Dundee student Evie's reminder that Covid-19 can affect anyone, young or old.
Please #StickWithIt and help prevent the spread of the virus.
For more info on what you can do and the support available, see https://t.co/MK03hj3OSE pic.twitter.com/X4jLo5ZRq7
— Dundee City Council (@DundeeCouncil) December 9, 2020