Several members of staff at a bus depot in Scotland’s most recent Covid hotspot have tested positive for coronavirus.
New figures released this week show that Falkirk is the area with the most Covid cases per 100,00 population, with 213.2.
NHS Forth Valley has now said the rise in cases is linked to an outbreak in large workplaces including factories and a bus depot – thought to be the First Bus facility at Larbert.
Mobile testing units have been deployed in Denny and Grangemouth and medics are trying to identify asymptomatic cases, with the new ‘UK’ variant of the disease leading to higher transmission rates.
NHS Forth Valley Consultant in Public Health, Dr Jennifer Champion said: “The new variant is much more infectious and once again I urge people to follow Government advice, particularly around keeping a two metre distance, and increased hand washing.
“Wearing a mask does not mean that guidelines no longer apply; keeping to physical distancing is paramount in trying to stop the spread.
“It is so important not to let your guard down, even for a minute, to avoid becoming infected. So please remain vigilant.”
READ MORE: Places with most coronavirus cases this week
The Larbert site, which has around 300 staff, has introduced additional measures to help prevent the further spread of the virus.
David Phillips, operations director for First Midland, told The Herald: “I can confirm that a group of colleagues at our First Midland Larbert depot have tested positive with confirmed cases of Covid 19. These have all been reported to the NHS Forth Valley Public Health as part of our protocols.
“We are fully supporting our colleagues and wish them a speedy recovery. We also have a number of other colleagues self-isolating due to our close contact tracing procedures.
“We are no different to any other business across the country as the global pandemic has once again seen a general spike in cases across the Forth Valley area at the moment and indeed the rest of the country in recent months.
“The safety of our staff and customers is our number one priority and since these cases were identified, we have conducted a full review of the site to ensure we have taken all necessary steps to minimise the risk of a spread of the infection with the mitigations we have in place.
“We have worked closely with NHS Forth Valley from the first positive case being uncovered to ensure we had a handle on the situation.
“We have been in full contact throughout with our Unite the Union representatives locally who have been in full agreement with the steps we have taken to ensure the safety of our colleagues.
“We have a signed collective agreement with Unite that provides 80% of basic pay for employees who are off work in connection with Covid-19.
“We have had all staff sent for two separate rounds of asymptomatic testing with the help of an on-site mobile NHS testing facility.
“There are currently no plans to close the depot given the mitigating factors we have put in place to ensure the safety of our staff and customers.
“We have worked closely with NHS Forth Valley and the relevant other bodies throughout to ensure we can safely continue to operate.
“We have added additional safety measures on site on the advice of NHS Forth Valley along with now reducing services to cope with the demands on our staff as well as to focus on keeping services running for key workers and essential journeys.
“I would like to pay tribute to the whole team, who continue to work hard in these testing times for everyone, and especially our fantastic driving staff out there on the frontline, who are providing a lifeline to allow our key workers and others in the local community to continue to make essential journeys safely.”