A top Scottish doctor says the battle to stop the transmission of coronavirus will be won on the streets.

Consultant Paediatrician Dr Graeme Eunson, who works at Borders General Hospital, said the front line is streets throughout the country and public places.

He said: "It is the public who are the front line and we are the second if you like. This fight will be won by people helping to prevent the spread and transmission of this virus not in the hospitals, accident and emergency awards and GP services.

"The thing we have the power to control is the transmission. And it is not just an older person's disease, everyone has a part to play in this. Young people could be passing it on to someone else and then we have a situation where our health service would be overwhelmed and that is what we are trying to prevent."

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In the past few days, he says staff have simply got on with the job in hand and the service has had to completely transform itself.

"We have gone from being a service which runs on a mixture of planned care and procedures, out patient services along with accident and emergency to a front line emergency footing," added Mr Eunson. "In a short space of time people have adapted to this. All staff groups, without question or complaining, have been amazing. They realise we are going through a difficult time and preparation has been key.

"We have really been seeing everyone pulling together. It has not been a case of that's not my remit, people have been amazing in these difficult circumstances."

Dr Eunson said recent figures from France gave a clear indication on how quickly the virus can spread.

He added: "In France data has shown that if each person who catches it passes it on to 1.5 people, then France is predicting that 1000 people would die in three weeks. If every person passes it on to three people that is 11,000 deaths. The exponential spread of the disease means that very quickly the capacity is not there to give care and support. This is why the advice of keeping away from people, particularly those who are vulnerable, and shielding people is the only way to prevent the spread."

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Dr Eunson who is also chairman of the Scottish Consultants Committee, can normally be found on the paediatric department at Borders General Hospital but his day job right now sees him on the front line of the community hubs for Covid19. His day began at 9am at the community hub until 5pm which at this point he then returned to his role in paediatric services until 10pm. However, his day didn't stop there and he was on call throughout the night.

He added: "The way it should work just now is that if you or someone in your family is showing symptoms you would contact 111, not go to your GP or local accident and emergency department.

"We need to keep the people who might have it away from others to prevent passing it on and we are working towards local centres within health board areas where people can be assessed by means of a virtual clinic.

"After calling 111 depending on the symptoms they describe, they would be passed on to our virtual clinic. I was one of the team manning ours and I have to say it worked very well. If I am able to see the person and hear them then I am able to assess them and decided on what kind of care is appropriate. It could be that they would be advised to stay home for seven or 14 days depending on whether they have family or further care may be required. Given day to day pressures on the health service, in areas such as GP work, perhaps virtual clinics are something we will move towards more so, but let's get over this crisis first."

Dr Eunson has worked in the NHS and says the crisis and days ahead they are facing is like nothing he has ever seen before.

"I don't think there is anyone alive who is working in the health service and has seen anything on this scale," he added. "We had swine flu which was a variant of influenza and we were able to adapt vaccines accordingly. However there is no evidence of this virus in humans before and very little research into this."

Keeping staff safe and well, Dr Eunson said was key to being able to maintain workforce levels in order provide the level of care necessary. Like other health care professionals, he echoed the call for testing for staff.

He added: "I have a young son and if he gets a sniffle, I might not be able to work. With access to testing, it could be determined quickly if I can return to work. Faster staff testing would mean less pressure on the workforce.