THERE are "very positive signs" that coronavirus is at a very low level in the Forth Valley, according to papers presented at a board meeting.

The board at NHS Forth Valley last week heard cases of Covid-19 continue to fall steadily across the country and the average deaths per day figure "has effectively reached zero".

Indeed, only on death was recorded nationally in the 15 days between July 8 and 22, compared to 50 deaths every day in early May.

As of July 23, there were no Covid-19 positive patients at Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

However, the document – prepared by director of public health Dr Graham Foster, said: "Physical distancing and hygiene measures will need to continue as long as the virus is prevalent in the population to help prevent potential community transmission."

And looking forward, health chiefs are planning for "likely changes" in Covid-19 infections as the colder weather hits.

One concern is that cooler temperatures will drive up indoor contact between people.

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The paper added: "Concerns also exist around the combined effect of Covid-19 alongside seasonal influenza.

"NHS winter planning teams will assess and work to counter these potential risks.

"A number of national groups have been formed to begin this important preparatory work.

"NHS Forth Valley is working to develop its response - our winter plan, Pandemic Influenza Plan, System-wide Remobilisation Plan and Covid-19 Pandemic Framework to ensure we are prepared for winter."

Meanwhile, the paper also said that the area's Test and Protect Service "is working well and seamlessly linked to health protection who manage the more complex cases".

They will have a big role to play in spotting and dealing with any potential outbreaks or clusters early.

This will be important as schools start to return form next week.

The document said: "The local health protection teams would continue to handle contact tracing for more complex incidents and enquiries for example should outbreaks in schools, care settings or workplaces present."