A MASSIVE surge of Covid-19 cases in Dumfries and Galloway is being fuelled by the new variant – with data revealing rates far above those across the rest of Scotland.  

Cases of Covid multiplied more than six times in a single week to end at 801 in the week ending January 3, with most recent analysis revealing that 89 per cent of cases tested through mobile testing units were the new, much more highly transmissible B.1.1.7 variant.  

READ MORE: WATCH: NHS Dumfries and Galloway boss paints 'grim picture' as region sees cases surge

This compares to Scotland as a whole, where the average rate of the B.1.1.7 variant is 54 per cent of new infections.  

In all of Scotland the Covid-hit health board had the top four Covid hotspot neighbourhoods, including Stranraer East, Gretna, Stranraer West and Stranraer South.

Health officials have now announced the "very difficult decision" to suspend some elective NHS procedures in Dumfries and Galloway, with rates of infection and admissions to hospital increasing.  

Meanwhile, the impact of the new variant is being seen as a dramatic game changer for the region.

Within just two or three weeks, it has moved from being a region with some of the lowest rates of Covid to being near the top across the whole of Scotland in terms of infection rates.  

A reminder is being issued by health officials that although this new strain is incredibly highly transmissible, Covid does not move around and infect new people by itself; the risk is controlled by people and their contact with others.  

The stay home, save lives is being heavily promoted. 

A spokesperson for NHS Dumfries and Galloway said: "Currently, data is revealing that in addition to the hundreds of confirmed cases of the new variant there could be still many more cases across the region, some of whom will be asymptomatic, potentially spreading that infection without their knowledge. 

"Due to the rates of infection and severe pressures on our health and social care systems, a decision was made to suspend some elective procedures in Dumfries and Galloway. This is not a decision taken lightly.  

"However, admissions to hospital are increasing, and with the current trajectory we can expect to see services put under strain like never before.  

"This does not impact just on those who might contract COVID-19, but has consequences for how essential care is provided for those who need it for any reason, whether that’s heart attacks, strokes, car accidents, etc."