Scotland coronavirus outbreak at NHS Test and Trace call centre is ‘serious concern’

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Six coronavirus cases have been confirmed at the Sitel call centre at Eurocentral business park near Bellshill. Measures have been brought in to try to combat the flare-up after it was discovered on Sunday morning.

The cluster of infections at the call centre comes as Scotland recorded 23 new coronavirus cases in the highest increase in almost a month.

An NHS Test and Trace spokeswoman said: “We are aware of a local outbreak of Covid-19 at the Sitel site in Motherwell.

“This is being managed by Sitel and colleagues in NHS Lanarkshire, who are following appropriate test and protect action in line with Scottish Government advice.

“We take the safety and wellbeing of our staff very seriously. Everyone at the site is currently working from home while a deep clean takes place, and will be offered a test within the next 24 hours.”

NHS Lanarkshire said it had been notified about “potentially linked cases” of Covid-19 in the area on Sunday.

Dr David Cromie, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in public health medicine, said: “We became aware this morning of a number of potentially linked cases of coronavirus in Lanarkshire.

“We instigated some immediate measures to reduce risk and are currently investigating the situation.”

Scotland’s Deputy First Minister John Swinney said the outbreak was a matter of “serious concern”.

He added that the Scottish Government believed there had been transmission between staff.

Mr Swinney also said an investigation would be needed to ”get an understanding” of how guidance was being followed at the call centre.

When asked on the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme on Monday if Sitel could face penalties, he said: “These are all issues that will be explored, but what our primary focus is on is to make sure that we interrupt any transmission of the virus.

“The virus is at a very low level within Scottish society today, the compliance efforts of members of the public have successfully reduced the prevalence of coronavirus, but we have to keep it that way.”

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Mr Swinney added that actions being taken by NHS Lanarkshire and North Lanarkshire Council were “reassuring”.

All members of staff have been asked to work from home and offered a coronavirus test.

Professor Hugh Pennington, emeritus professor of bacteriology at the University of Aberdeen, said he was “not surprised” to hear about the cluster of cases at the call centre.

He told Good Morning Scotland: “I’m not surprised to hear about a cluster because that’s the way this virus behaves; it’s done that in all the other countries that we have good records for, that getting on for half the cases do occur in outbreaks and some of them can be quite big.

“This is clearly not a particular surprise that we have a cluster of cases in Scotland because we know the virus has not gone away but it’s a bit disappointing we’ve got these two days where we’ve got more than 20 cases because for quite a long time now we’ve been seeing most parts of Scotland recording no new cases at all.”

NHS Test and Trace is a service operated by the NHS in England to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Figures released by the Scottish Government on Sunday showed 23 further coronavirus cases in 24 hours, up two from 21 on Saturday.

Sunday’s figures also marked five consecutive days of rising cases.

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