Midlothian’s Level 2 move now in doubt

Monday November 23rd 2020


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

A sharp spike in Covid-19 cases in Midlothian has put plans to move the county into a lower level of restrictions in doubt.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has today confirmed that concern over the increasing number of positive cases has put the move from Level 3 in jeopardy.

Speaking at a press briefing ahead of tomorrow’s review of local authority levels, Ms Sturgeon said: “The National Incident Management Team has expressed some concern this morning about a rise in cases and test positivity over the past few days in Midlothian, so we will be considering this further this afternoon and will confirm the position in relation to Midlothian later.

“It may be that Midlothian will remain at Level 3 for a bit longer until the situation stabilises and, while if that is the decision I know it will be disappointing, it is better than moving the area down a level, only to possibly have to move it back up again in a week’s time.”

Rates of positive cases in Midlothian rose to 100.6 per 100,000 of the population by the end of last week – nearly double the 55.6 rate in neighbouring East Lothian.

Midlothian Council Leader Councillor Derek Milligan said:

“Any decisions should be based on robust and expert evidence, taking into account a number of critical indicators. We have discussed our concerns with the data with the Deputy First Minister this morning. We are currently working with Public Health Scotland to analyse the data given the unexpected rise in potential cases from 17th November to 18th November.

“It would be very disappointing if we are not to be able to move into Level 2 tomorrow given the trend up until now and we have scheduled further meetings today with NHS Public Health. We will communicate any outcomes as soon as the final numbers are confirmed.”

Both local authorities were singled out by Ms Sturgeon during last week’s review as potentially moving down from Level 3 to Level 2 restrictions from tomorrow.

But while East Lothian’s cases have remained stable, a spike in Midlothian has now put an easing of restrictions into doubt.

Across Midlothian, areas which moved into the ‘red’ zone – which saw more than 100 cases per 100,000 population in the week up to November 19 – included Shawfair, Thornybank, Easthouses and Bonnyrigg North.

All areas saw single-figure positive cases but, when compared to the size of population, it came in above 100 cases per 100,000 residents.

Pentland, Penicuik South East and Gorebridge and Middleton are the only areas in the county in the lowest rate of fewer than 15 cases per 100,000 people.

Article Updated 13:43: with the comment from Council Leader, Derek Milligan.

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