FEWER people are becoming seriously unwell due to Covid-19 thanks to the vaccination programme, said public health chiefs after a rise in cases.

However, there is "no room for complacency" as an increase in cases confirmed shows the virus is still out there.

Dr Graham Foster, director of public health at NHS Forth Valley, put figures into context after 437 cases of Covid-19 were reported in the wider area on Monday, September 6.

The number of people in hospital with recently confirmed Covid-19 has also risen slightly to 33 on the same day, but not all of these individuals are being treated for coronavirus.

Dr Foster said: "The recent rise in positive cases local communities across Scotland, including Forth Valley, is due to a number of factors including an increase in Covid-19 testing and an increase in the number of close contacts identified for each positive case due to people socialising and travelling more.

"Thankfully, due to the vaccination programme, fewer people are becoming seriously unwell due to Covid-19; however, there is no room for complacency and the increase in confirmed cases clearly shows the virus is still out there and people should therefore remain vigilant and take sensible steps to help protect themselves and others."

Hospitals in the Forth Valley continue to be very busy with a "significant increase in admissions for non-Covid related illnesses".

Dr Foster continued: "There has been a small rise in the number of patients in local hospitals who have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last few weeks; however, not all of these individuals are being treated for Covid-19 related health issues as everyone admitted to hospital is tested for Covid-19 prior to and after their admission to help identify cases in people who may not be displaying symptoms."

The public health chief is encouraging people to ensure they receive both doses of the coronavirus vaccine at any drop-in clinic in the area or any vaccination centre in Scotland if more convenient.

He added: "Regular Covid-19 testing is also important to help prevent people without any symptoms from spreading the virus to others, especially more vulnerable people who are more at risk.

"Rapid LFD test kits are widely available at local testing centres, pharmacies and also available to order via post.

"More details, including how to order kits online, can be found on the NHS Inform website.

"However, LFD kits are not designed to diagnose the virus in people who already have symptoms so if you have any symptoms you should book a PCR test via the NHS Inform website or by calling 119.

"Please stay at home and do not attend work or school until you have had a negative PCR test to confirm you are not infectious for Covid-19."