NHS Tayside says it stands ready to treat coronavirus patients – as Evening Tele analysis suggests that at best there may only be enough local beds for 2% of potential patients.
Three cases of Covid-19 have now been confirmed in Tayside, down from four on Wednesday, while the number of cases in Scotland has almost doubled from 36 to 60.
Ministers have warned the number will likely rise sharply.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has declared that governments across the UK have moved away from the “containment” phase of tackling the virus and into delaying the disease from spreading further.
This is likely to involve a ban on mass gatherings larger than 500 people where police and ambulance staff would typically be required from next week.
Scotland has recorded multiple cases of “community transmission” – where the virus has passed from one person to another within the country, rather than being brought in from the outside.
Scottish Health Minister Jeane Freeman said last week that “reasonable worst case scenario” projections could see as much as 80% of the population infected.
Of those infected, 4% are expected to be hospitalised and around 1% could die.
In Tayside, that reasonable worst-case scenario could see over 13,000 people hospitalised – and upwards of 3,300 fatalities.
Across the region, there are just 31 intensive care and high dependency beds and 1,047 acute hospital beds for less serious cases.
Tele analysis of both intensive care and acute beds suggests that as few as 233 of these beds may be available across the region to admit patients at short notice – one for every 57 potential cases.
Scottish Conservative MSP for the North East, Bill Bowman, said: “Even if these figures are taken as a worst-case scenario, the strain on NHS Tayside’s intensive and acute beds could be massive.
“Just how stretched resources get will depend on how individuals respond to emerging advice.
“We must turn a possible spike in cases into a plateau.
“Local healthcare is already beset by challenges and I fear business as usual will not work in the weeks and months ahead.
“On a positive note, the Chancellor’s assurances that the NHS would get as much as it needed to cope with this crisis will improve the morale and confidence of staff and patients all across the UK.
“Both of Scotland’s governments need to work together so the £30 billion coronavirus package gets where it’s needed most.”
However, NHS Tayside says it and other health boards are ready to admit patients anywhere in the country should they require immediate and intensive care.
There are around 500 intensive care and high dependency beds across the whole of Scotland, of which around a third are typically unoccupied.
In particular, a specialist unit in Aberdeen with an intensive life-support system known as an ECMO is available for patients who have a life-threatening response to Covid-19.
Professor Peter Stonebridge, medical director in Tayside, said: “The NHS in Scotland stands ready to deal with coronavirus and we are working to ensure we have the right resources, equipment and staffing in place.
“Our planning will always use the scientific and clinical evidence and we will keep the level of resourcing under constant review.
“All NHS boards have plans in place to increase capacity in critical care in response to any situation of rising demand.
“This includes provision of all appropriate medical equipment including ventilators and further work is underway to map this against scientific and clinical evidence of potential increased demand.”
The latest advice is that people self-isolate for seven days if they believe they have symptoms of the virus.
Common symptoms of Covid-19 include a typically dry cough, a high temperature or fever and shortness of breath.