THE chief executive of Scottish Borders Council has issued a rallying cry to communities across the region amidst the coronavirus outbreak.

With guidance tightening around social contact, more and more elderly people and the most vulnerable will become isolated in the coming weeks.

The local authority is spending this week briefing Resilient Community Groups about the challenges ahead.

And it is hoped the voluntary organisations, which usually operate in times of flooding or heavy snow, will ease the burden for many who will be trapped inside their homes.

Council chief executive Tracey Logan told us: "I would encourage everyone to play their part as much as possible and help members of the community.

"We will be speaking to Resilient Communities Groups across the Borders to see how they can help to co-ordinate these efforts, by arranging for vulnerable neighbours to be contacted and assist with things like shopping and picking up medicines for those who aren’t able to leave the house.”

All people over 70 and anyone who has a high risk and underlying health condition have been strongly advised to stay at home as much as possible and significantly reduce unnecessary social contact.

Anyone showing symptoms suggestive of coronavirus should remain at home for seven days and only contact NHS 111 or their local GP if their symptoms worsen.

Members of a household where someone has suspected symptoms should stay at home for 14 days, to allow appropriate time to assess whether they have contracted the virus.

Scottish Borders Council has cancelled all of its scheduled meetings, and it is recommending community councils do the same.

A decision has been made to leave just one public toilet open in each town which has more than one facility, to ensure our staff can maintain them more frequently, consolidate resources and allow the public to still have access to soap and water to wash their hands when out and about.

Ms Logan added: “This is a difficult situation that changes on a daily basis but I would again like to reassure residents that our priority is the health and well-being of Borderers.

"We ask that you follow the national guidance, and look to minimise social contact by avoiding crowded areas and large gatherings.

"We've had to make some difficult decisions such as cancelling school trips and limiting our public toilet provision but everything we do is aimed at helping to mitigate the impact of coronavirus as much as possible.

"We will continue to make decisions in respect of the council’s services and any other community matters in light of guidance provided at a Scottish and UK level."