GALASHIELS is one of the safest places to live in Scotland during the coronavirus pandemic, according to research.

Scotianomics, a think tank, has ranked the country's 354 council areas based on the risk of transmitting the virus.

Of the 11 wards in the Borders, Galashiels and District is the safest – sitting in 299th place in the table (with first place the least safe, or most at risk).

Scotianomics' founding director Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp said: “This is nothing to do with the number of cases in an area or how well people living in each area have observed the lockdown.

“It is not a map of COVID-19 cases across Scotland but of the areas most at risk of community infection."

In the Borders, Kelso and District is the most 'at risk' ward (151st place), according to the study, with Hawick and Hermitage next (185th), followed by Jedburgh and District (213th).

The research, led by senior Samuel MacKinnon, was conducted during April and has been submitted to the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Economic Recovery.

Mr MacIntyre-Kemp believes the findings help to argue that lockdown should be lifted at different speeds in different locations.

He said: “What is evident is that, for a wide variety of reasons, the risks vary hugely in different communities across Scotland.

“In terms of both the economy and health and wellbeing, we believe it makes sense to ease the lockdown according to those regional differences in risk.

“There has already been a great deal of debate on whether the four nations within the UK should ease restrictions in lockdown, despite the fact that Oban is likely to have a completely different risk profile to Tower Hamlets in London.

“What our research shows is that there are also significant variations even within Scotland.”

He added: “Across the world, other countries, including China, Italy and Germany, responded to the initial threat on a regionalised basis and are now lifting lockdown according to regional variations.

“Our research suggests this is the most likely way to prevent a second wave and to protect the economy.”

The research does not factor in actual infection rates or the fatalities recorded in each area, as the researchers say those figures are not yet publicly available in a sufficiently detailed format.

Instead, the study is based on existing data for Scotland’s 354 local authority wards and calculates each area’s risk of exposure according to two factors – transmission probability and potential for fatalities.

Key information includes population density; how many older people or those with underlying health conditions live in the area; how many people use road and rail travel; how easy it is to access local health services; and socioeconomic factors, such as the average income of residents in each area.

Scotianomics, created in 2020, aims to analyse the Scottish economy in a way that can help policy makers.

The Covid-19 Risk Monitor can be viewed online at covid19-risk-monitor/