Coronavirus: Scotland's virus death 'capital' calls for support

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image captionChris McEleny said many key workers who lived in the area had to travel to Glasgow Airport for testing

An Inverclyde councillor has called for urgent funding to tackle the high number of deaths in the "coronavirus capital" of Scotland.

SNP councillor Chris McEleny linked the high death rate to the fact it was the most deprived area in the country, according to recent research.

He said increased levels of testing in the community was needed.

The Scottish government said it was committed to tackling poverty and inequalities.

Data published by the National Records of Scotland show there have been 93 deaths from Covid-19 in Inverclyde, a death rate of about 12 people per 10,000.

This compares with a rate of about eight people per 10,000 in West Dunbartonshire, which is the second worst affected council area in Scotland.

The rate in Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city, is about six people per 10,000.

Inverclyde Council Provost Martin Brennan said the statistics were "yet more sad reading for Inverclyde".

"The statistical report is important as it can help to drive public policy and make sure that resources and action are being targeted at the right parts of the country," he said.

"As a community we must never forget that we have lost 93 members of the Inverclyde community to this virus. These are all family, friends, colleagues and neighbours who are grieving right now at the loss of a loved one."

Covid-19 death rate. Worst-hit councils.  .

Mr McEleny said deprivation was a key factor in the high death rate.

"We already know that evidence shows there is a strong link between low skills, poor education, poor health, unemployment and poverty," he said.

"The Scottish government should give serious consideration to creating a special deprivation fund for areas with high levels of deprivation.

"People have said the coronavirus doesn't discriminate but it's clear that it's discriminating against people in deprived communities across Scotland."

The councillor said the high death rate was "unacceptable" and made Inverclyde the "coronavirus capital" of Scotland.

He has called for more testing within the community to help tackle the spread of the virus.

"At the moment the only testing available within the area is for health and social care workers," he said. "Other key workers such as police, council staff and shop workers are being asked to travel upwards of a 90-mile round trip depending on availability.

"There is no testing available for anyone else in the community."

Parts of Greenock town centre and East Central, Inverclyde, were ranked the highest for levels of deprivation in Scotland in a report in January.

They sit at the top of the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation - a measure considering seven criteria including income and health.

The Scottish government said: "We are committed to tackling poverty and inequalities, including the increased financial hardship many will now face as a result of Covid-19.

"We are providing a range of benefits for people on low incomes and those who are struggling the most, which provide a higher level of support than the equivalent DWP benefits, and to a wider range of people."

A spokeswoman added that the Scottish government would publish a paper next week which set out its strategy for contact tracing in Scotland in more detail.

Covid-19 death rate. All councils.  .