Jason Leitch on whether Edinburgh is close to moving to Level 2 of coronavirus restrictions

Edinburgh has started showing a positive trend towards potentially moving into level two restrictions as test positivity and case numbers see a drop over the past week, the national clinical director has said.

Professor Jason Leitch was asked during the Scottish Government’s daily coronavirus briefings whether Edinburgh’s statistics were showing a downwards trend or were lower than previous weeks due to a potential reporting error.

According to Public Health Scotland data, Edinburgh has seen a drop in the seven-day average of positive tests from 68.9 positive cases a day on November 20 to 51.4 on November 28.

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The rate of positive cases per 100,000 people has also dropped to 9.8 on November 28 from a peak of 13.1 on November 20, after around two months of static movement on both measures.

Prof Leitch told journalists the Scottish Government would be cautious about any decision to ease restrictions in the capital, but the data indicated the guidance was working to reduce prevalence in the city.

He said: “One of the challenges with this virus is the time it takes for the numbers to fall. It’s much easier for the virus to rise than fall.

"[Edinburgh] is on a downwards slope, but it is very, very slow and we should be cautious overreacting, but we should be positive, cautiously, that the people of the City of Edinburgh appear to be following the guidance in such a way that gets that test positivity down and that’s really encouraging.”

The First Minister said she hoped the data meant the restrictions were working and the Scottish Government required more than “a few days” of data to be confident in a decision to drop an area down a level.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “We do know restrictions can take a while to work and feed through into the numbers. We also know that we have to look for more than a few days to give ourselves a sense of assurance that there is a sustained downwards trend before we loosen restrictions, for example.

"Across the whole country we will be looking at that carefully.

"Country-wide we are seeing cases fall. In the stubbornly high Central Belt areas where, and I’m crossing my fingers as I say this, we are a bit more hopeful now we are starting to see a decline in these areas, Renfrewshire perhaps is the area that gives us most cause for thinking it is still quite stubborn.

"There are positive signs generally across the country, but we will have pockets at any given time that we are looking a bit more carefully at and we will want to see sustained positive trends in areas before we loosen up restrictions.

"When you take an area down a level it is not a neutral act. You are loosening restrictions, so transmission is likely to increase again, so we need to make sure an area can sustain that before doing it and these are the kinds of things we’ll be looking at over the course of the day.”

The final decision on whether Edinburgh will move down to level two will be made during a meeting of the Scottish Government’s Cabinet tomorrow morning before being announced to the Scottish Parliament just after noon.

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