The chief executive of Scotland's health board with the highest Covid-19 rates has painted a "grim picture" of the current situation in the region.

Jeff Ace, Chief Executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway underlined the importance of "redoubling efforts" in his latest update.

The number of cases has risen sharply in the region, in what has been described as a "real, problematic situation."

Mr Ace said: "It's a frankly grim picture, we are still seeing around a hundred positive tests every day that are coming in to our labs from right across the region and every locality in Dumfries and Galloway.

"The number of positive tests that we've seen over the last few days has led to areal surge in hospital admissions, we now have over 40 patients who are Covid positive in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary."

He continued: "In addition to the people being treated on general wards, we have eight patients in critical care, which is the highest number we've ever had during this pandemic.

"Things are very tough, this is a real, problematic situation."

He added: "While we can juggle to some extent with elective care and and suspend and slow down some of that we need to keep open our ability to maintain urgent and immediate care through accident emergency services, and frankly the rate of growth of Covid is giving us real concern about whether we can keep those services running safely and effectively."

READ MORE: Covid Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway cases surge as new variant spreads

Mr Ace said that, although the rate of transmission of the new Covid strain is much higher in Dumfries and Galloway than anywhere else in Scotland, he anticipates that it will spread to other parts of the country fairly rapidly.

He went on: "We've led something of a charmed life in Dumfries and Galloway up till now, our numbers have been relatively low, but our luck has run out i'm afraid and what we're faced with now is is a real crisis.

"We need all of us to act in a way that protects ourselves, our families, our communities, and allows health and social care to keep delivering that urgent care that it needs to."

The surge of Covid-19 cases in Dumfries and Galloway is being fuelled by the new variant health bosses said, with cases of Covid multiplying more than six times in a single week to end at 801 in the week ending January 3.

Some elective NHS procedures have also been suspended in the region as rates of infection and hospital admissions increasing.