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The number of recent Covid cases has shown reassuring signs of decline, something that may be particularly pleasing so deep into autumn with the winter pressures of flu and cold weather approaching fast.

However, there are still some places where there is considerable strain on resources, not least in areas with unusually high Covid rates and limited resources, such as towns in relatively isolated areas.

One such case applies in the Dumfries and Galloway NHS Trust, where chief executive Jeff Ace has issued a statement notifying that the trust has had an “extremely difficult” few days dealing with demand for treatments.

He added: “Due to continued high admissions and ongoing difficulties with discharge home, all of our sites are operating beyond capacity.” Mr Ace said the trust is seeking to find way of discharging 139 patients currently no longer needing treatment but who cannot currently be sent home, in order to provide emergency treatments to those needing it.

While he did not cite Covid as the prime cause of the situation, Mr Ace’s warning is one those who are immunocompromised and use finger protectors may take particular note of, as this provides another reason to take extra steps to reduce the risk of infection, as the dangers of a shortage of beds is so acute in some places.

While it may be more rural areas that are at risk now, there have been many serious incidents declared during large Covid waves. A year ago the London mayor Sadiq Khan declared a major incident in the capital when the Omicron wave first hit, warning the capital’s hospitals could be overwhelmed.

It remains to be seen if it is not just small hospitals in rural areas that are hit by sudden surges of patient admissions this winter, be it due to Covid, flu or other problems. But by protecting yourself you can help ensure you are not being taken to a hospital that is struggling to find you a bed.