HEALTH chiefs have warned of a deteriorating situation in Moray amid reports that some people are failing to self-isolate and breaching rules on indoor gatherings.

The region currently has the worst Covid rate in Scotland amid a recent surge in cases, and there are growing fears that it may be left behind when the rest of the country unlocks into Level Two restrictions later this month.

The latest figures show that prevalence of the virus in Moray has climbed to 81.4 cases per 100,000, compared to just 11 per 100,000 in neighbouring Aberdeenshire and Highland.

In East Dunbartonshire, which has the second high rate in Scotland, the prevalence is 41.4 per 100,000.

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Paul Southworth, consultant in public health at NHS Grampian, said: “The situation in Moray is continuing to worsen. Last week the rate was around 50 per 100,000 and that is rising rapidly. We have also seen an increase in Covid hospital admissions from Moray this week.

“In the last seven days Moray has seen 55% of Grampian’s cases – but has less than 17% of the population. We’re continuing to see an upward trend and we are yet to see the impact of any mixing over the May Day weekend, so it is possible the situation could worsen in the coming days."

Dr Southworth said the increase was not linked to any specific outbreak, but that community transmission seemed particularly focused in Elgin and the surrounding area.

"That is across all age groups and demographics," he added. "We need to recognise that this is not about one or two incidents of poor behaviour but about an increased risk across the whole community."

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Health bosses at Dr Gray’s Hospital, in Elgin, said local knowledge had indicated that some people were choosing to break the rules by entering other people’s houses and organising gatherings.

Jamie Hogg, divisional clinical director at Dr Gray’s Hospital, said: “Anecdotally we’re being made of aware of people either with symptoms or who have been asked to self-isolate by contract tracers not doing so.

"From what our contact tracers are being told, we are increasingly concerned that there are people in the area who have become complacent to the virus and aren’t following the guidelines – from small breaches to the more serious."

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Moray Council chief executive, Roddy Burns, said: “Ultimately if the situation continues to escalate we may find ourselves living with restrictions which could severely impact on our daily lives.”

Laurie Piper, CEO of Visit Moray Speyside said speculation about a 'local lockdown' was already leading to cancellations for tourist industry.

"It is hitting their bookings and bottom line already," she said. “We are not talking about another lockdown, but that Moray may not be able to move to Level Two along with the rest of Scotland."