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SCOTLAND: Coronavirus! Nineteen cases linked to test and trace call centre

Coronavirus testing
Image captionOver the last 24 hours, 22 positive cases were found with “some” likely to be linked to the Motherwell outbreak

A total of 19 positive cases of coronavirus have been linked to an outbreak that started at a Motherwell call centre, NHS Lanarkshire has said.

A statement released on Tuesday evening said 14 cases associated with the premises had been identified.

There have been a further five cases involving other people linked to those at the call centre.

Earlier on Tuesday, Nicola Sturgeon said 22 new cases had been detected in Scotland, with 14 in Lanarkshire.

The first minister said “at least some of them” were linked to the call centre.

She added that a Scottish government resilience meeting would consider the situation in Lanarkshire and whether any further action was required.

Ms Sturgeon added: “These figures are a sharp reminder that the virus is circulating in Scotland and a reminder that if we allow it to, it will spread rapidly in social settings or workplaces.”

Sitel call centre, Bellshill

Dr David Cromie, a consultant in public health medicine at NHS Lanarkshire, said: “We are taking all of the necessary steps to identify those who may have been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 and to mitigate the risk of onward transmission to others.

“We would like to reassure the local community that appropriate measures are being implemented.”

The Sitel centre, where the call centre is based, has been closed and staff have been asked to get tested for coronavirus. BBC Scotland has learned that staff have been told they will remain on full pay while the company puts arrangements in place.

The call centre had been carrying out contact tracing for NHS England.

On Monday, Public Health Scotland said “almost all” close contacts had been traced.

One call centre employee had raised concerns about staff breaching social distancing rules in communal areas while taking their breaks.

Speaking during the Scottish government’s daily briefing, Ms Sturgeon said the government had an expectation of business and employers that they would make sure that the advice was “followed rigorously”.

Nicola Sturgeon

It was necessary for the protection and wellbeing of their own staff but also to avoid further workplace clusters, the first minister added.

She said steps would be taken to “reinforce that expectation” with NHS England and other companies in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon also announced that children aged under five would be eligible for coronavirus testing from Wednesday.

There have been no further deaths from Covid-19 in Scotland.

Chains of transmission

It is the third time in four days that the number of new coronavirus cases in Scotland has exceeded 20, after 21 new cases were reported on Saturday and 23 on Sunday.

Ms Sturgeon said more than 25,000 tests were processed over the weekend so the number of positive tests was still at a relatively low level.

But she said it did prove that the virus was still present in Scotland.

“That said, a great deal of work is being done, not least through Test and Protect, to understand all of these cases, follow up contacts of them and make sure that all necessary and appropriate steps are being taken to break the chains of transmission,” she added.

“We all have a part to play in keeping this virus under control.”

— BBC news