THE Borders has patients in more than 60 per cent of its coronavirus-ward hospital beds, according to the First Minister.

During an address to the Scottish Parliament yesterday (January 4), Nicola Sturgeon said “the pressure is already very real” for health boards in Scotland.

Ms Sturgeon stated that more than 60 per cent of hospital beds assigned for people with the virus in the Borders have been filled.

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Speaking yesterday, the First Minister said: “The next update on the numbers of COVID patients in hospital and intensive care will be published tomorrow (January 5).

“I would expect these to show that, nationally, the total number of COVID patients in hospital is close to its April peak. And in some boards, the pressure is already very real.

“For example, in terms of hospital beds, NHS Ayrshire and Arran is currently at 96 per cent of its COVID capacity, and three other health boards – Borders, Greater Glasgow & Clyde and Lanarkshire – are above 60 per cent of their capacity.

“The number of people in intensive care is still significantly lower than the April peak – which partly reflects the fact that treatment of COVID has improved significantly since last spring.

“But even so, the total number of patients in intensive care in Scotland is already above normal winter levels.

"Indeed, all mainland health boards have now exceeded their normal intensive care unit capacity.

“And it is important to be clear that people who are in hospital and ICU now are likely to have been infected 10 days to two weeks ago.

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“That means that these numbers reflect what the level of new cases was around two weeks ago.

“Given that the number of cases has increased significantly since then, we can expect to see significantly increased pressure on the NHS over the course of this month.”

Between December 9-23, the number of people in the Borders in hospital with the virus rose by 167 per cent, the biggest rise in Scotland during that period.

On December 31, the last time the government statistics were updated, there were 34 people in hospital in the region with recently confirmed cases of COVID-19.

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