A Scottish health board has warned that its services may be put into 'code black' due to pressure from the coronavirus pandemic and staff absences, it has been reported. 

Jeff Ace, Chief Executive of NHS Dumfries and Galloway told a meeting that the sistuation was "really serious" and that a decision to switch to the highest code of alert was not far away.

Code black means a hospital is at capacity with no available beds for new admissions from A&E.

It is declared by the hospital's general bed manager, who then relays this to the local ambulance service and updates local healthcare services such as GPs and district nursing teams.

READ MORE: 'Code Black' alerts at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital

Officials at NHS Grampian confirmed earlier this month that Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and Dr Gray’s Hospital in Elgin have both been at capacity, and that it had been forced to cancel procedures and appointments to free up staff working on urgent and emergency care.

Raigmore Hospital in Inverness announced the same alert, though it was rescinded earlier this week. 

During a healthboard meeting on Monday, it was revealed that the the current situation for Dumfries and Galloway is fragile, with staff isolations, holidays and coronavirus a contribution to the latest strain on the service, Westsound radio reported.

Speaking at the meeting Mr Ace, said; "Whilst I wouldn't want to ring any alarm bells, I'm aware that a couple of boards in Scotland have declared a 'code black status, which is the highest state of alert, to highlight their fragility.

"We're not enormously far away from that at the moment, but this is really serious."

During the past seven days there have been 167 cases of coronavirus reported in the D&G healthboard area. 

However, the region has the lowest 7-day rates per 100,000 of population, at 112. By Comparison, the highest is NHS Lothian, with 435, accoring to Public Health Scotland data. 

READ MORE: Raigmore hospital no longer in 'code black' crisis

Mr Ace continued: "It's really a highlight to Scottish Government and the public that the hospital services are not able to offer the normal range of services and are crunching down onto an emergency basis only.

"We're not quite at that level at the moment."