A MAP ranking the Covid risk for each of Scotland's 354 council wards has been created, with parts of Inverclyde and Clydebank most in danger.

Researchers and analysts at new think tank Scotianomics used multiple dataset sets to draw up its Covid-19 Community Risks Index, the most detailed possible picture of which Scottish communities are most under threat.

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West central Scotland has the highest concentration of 'red' zones, with areas to the north including the Highlands and Grampian at lowest risk.

Now the organisation has produced a colour-coded map based on council constituencies – freely accessible online - which it says should help guide Scottish Government policy on lifting lockdown restrictions on a phased, geographic basis.

That could see schools or businesses across the country open earlier or later depending on the risk levels within individual communities.

The map shows pockets of west central Scotland at highest risk

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founding director of Scotianomics in Glasgow, said: “The public and business reaction to Coronavirus is highly-charged and often emotional.

"We believe this geographic breakdown can help the national response to provide clear analysis of existing data

“What is evident is that, for a wide variety of reasons, the risks vary hugely in different communities across Scotland.

"In terms of both the economy and health and well-being, we believe it makes sense to ease the lockdown according to those regional differences in risk.

“There has already been a great deal of debate on whether the four nations within the UK should ease restrictions in lockstep, despite the fact that Oban is likely to have a completely different risk profile to Tower Hamlets in London.

"What our research shows is that there are also significant variations even within Scotland.

“Across the world, other countries, including China, Italy and Germany, responded to the initial threat on a regionalised basis and are now lifting lockdown according to regional variations. Our research suggests this is the most likely way to prevent a second wave and to protect the economy.”

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The research, led by senior researcher Samuel MacKinnon, was conducted during April and has already been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery.

The calculations are based on existing data for Scotland’s 354 local authority wards, including population density, how many older people or those with underlying health conditions live in the area, how many people use road and rail travel, how easy or otherwise it is to access local health services, and the average income of residents.

It also takes account of each ward's transmission probability and potential for fatalities, rather than the actual number of deaths and infections by ward as this level of detail is not yet available publicly.

However, it does dovetail with statistics showing that the area covered by Inverclyde council has the Covid-19 death rate in Scotland, with figures double the national average.

The death rate from Covid in the area covered by NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde - which includes Inverclyde and Clydebank in Renfrewshire, as well as Glasgow City, East Renfrewshire, East Dunbartonshire and West Dunbartonshire - is also the highest for any health board in Scotland.

Rural areas such as Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, Highland and Grampian have the lowest Covid death rate by population.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she would not rule out easing lockdown restrictions on a geographical basis if the evidence supported it.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp added: “We want to be absolutely clear. This is nothing to do with the number of cases in an area or how well people living in each area have observed the lockdown. It is not a map of COVID-19 cases across Scotland but of the areas most at risk of community infection.

“However, what it sets out very clearly is that the risks of transmission and the likelihood of fatalities within particular communities can be predicted with a high degree of confidence.

“For example, our findings suggested that Inverclyde was the most at risk community in Scotland, taking up the top six spots on the index. That has been borne out by the actual impact of COVID-19 in the area.

“This clearly demonstrates the scope to consider issues such as schools reopening on Orkney to a different timescale to Greenock.

"We already have a weather warning system with yellow, amber or red alerts which are adapted to different parts of Scotland.

"Likewise, schools have different holidays in different council areas, all of which suggest that a phased reopening of Scotland, and indeed the rest of the UK, would not be that complex.

“It is our hope that this kind of fact-based, data-driven research will help shape the Scottish Government’s plans to get the best possible outcomes for both public health and the economy, by lifting lockdown according to the very different risks in different areas.”