Coronavirus in Fife: Warning as first vaccine dose 'not excuse to ignore restrictions'

Fifers have been urged to remain cautious and vigilant against Covid-19 even as the vaccination programme continues in the months ahead.

Wednesday, 31st March 2021, 3:54 pm
Many people have already had their first jab.

Public health expert Dona Milne says she believes locals are treating their first dose as an excuse to resume normal life despite not being fully protected against the virus.

She says Kingdom residents need to continue obeying rules on social distancing, mask wearing and hand-washing while also following guidance on meeting people indoors and outdoors.

“We’re still seeing some cases within local areas and I’d like to remind people that despite the fact we have a vaccine we still need to maintain a public health effort,” she said.

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“I’ve heard lots of stories from members of the public saying, ‘it’s okay, I’ve had one dose,’ but people need to get two doses and which will prevent them from becoming as unwell as they would be (if they didn’t have the vaccine).

“However we don’t know if the vaccine reduces transmission.

“This is a plea from me as we move into a period of seeing restrictions changed.”

Milne, NHS Fife’s outgoing director of public health, issued the plea to the public during a health board meeting today (March 31) ahead of the imminent easing of lockdown restrictions.

From Monday April 5, limited businesses can re-open including hairdressers, garden centres, car showrooms and non-essential retailers operating click-and-collect services. Children of all ages will return to school the week after, from April 12.

“I’m really pleased to see our children back at school and we’re working very closely with education colleagues to ensure there’s effective systems in place to support that,” Milne added.

Her plea for vigilance was backed by Tricia Marwick, chair of the NHS Fife board.

“We’re not out of the woods yet,” she said.

“We’re getting there, we can see light through the trees, but we’re not there yet and we’ll continue to push that message as hard as we can.”

Les Bisset, outgoing vice-chair of NHS Fife, says testing will likely have to continue into next year even with a vaccine available to ensure the spread remains low as assessment of the vaccines’ efficacy continues.

New test centres are being opened in Glenrothes, Dunfermline and Kirkcaldy alongside existing facilities in St Andrews and Leven. Community testing has also been introduced in community centres in Cowdenbeath, Kirkcaldy and Methil with support from the armed forces.

“Testing will have to go on for a considerable amount of time, well into next year, and people must make use of the testing facilities,” he said.

Daily new cases of Covid-19 in Fife are stagnating following a brief spike in positive tests in the middle of March. As of March 29 eight new cases had been recorded, at a positivity rate of 2.28%.

The most recent death linked to the virus in the Kingdom was recorded on March 25, bringing the total number of fatal cases to 376.